- Thomson Reuters
- Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in as South Africa’s president.
- Former president Jacob Zuma resigned on Wednesday.
- In his first presidential speech, Ramaphosa promised to tackle the issues of corruption that proliferated under Zuma.
- Ramaphosa, one of the country’s wealthiest politicians, was the only candidate nominated by parliament to lead, and the decision was met with cheers by his supporters.
Former deputy president and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa’s new president following Jacob Zuma’s resignation on Wednesday.
In his first presidential speech, Ramaphosa, 65, promised to tackle the issues of corruption that proliferated under Zuma.
Zuma, who became president in 2009, has faced allegations of corruption, money laundering, and fraud, but denies any wrongdoing.
Zuma’s resignation came after the African National Congress (ANC), the country’s ruling party, ordered him to step down from his role on Monday.
Ramaphosa is a member of the ANC, and previously served as deputy president. He was the only candidate nominated by parliament, and his election elicited songs and cheers by parliament members and his supporters.
Last time there was this triumphant mood in front of the National Assembly, ANC MP’s and supporters were celebrating the defeat of the last motion of no confidence against former President Jacob Zuma in 08/08/2017. Today it’s; ‘Rise #Ramaphosa’ #CyrilRamaphosa #ZumaHasFallen pic.twitter.com/YqDGQCEl4j
— Thulasizwe Simelane (@ThulasSims) February 15, 2018
However, some parliamentary members were less than thrilled with his direct nomination.
Members of one of the country’s opposition parties, Economic Freedom Fighters, walked out of parliament following the vote. The party said the entire government had become “illegitimate” under Zuma’s 9-year reign and favored holding new elections.
Ramaphosa’s business past
ANC lawmaker Patrick Maesola called Ramaphosa a revolutionary figure, and echoed calls for confidence in Ramaphosa’s ability to bring change to South Africa.
Ramapohosa was previously an anti-apartheid activist and trade unionist. He previously served as the country’s chief negotiator during the transition to democracy in the 1990s, and was reportedly Nelson Mandela’s first choice to lead the country after him.
But following a defeat in 1997, Ramapohosa left politics and transitioned to business. He formed the Shanduka Group which invests in resources, real estate, banking, insurance and telecommunications. He also has ownership in major companies like McDonald’s South Africa and was once on the advisory board for Coca-Cola International.
However, Ramaphosa has faced criticism for his past business dealings, and has allegedly been tied to the moving of millions of dollars into offshore bank accounts for a major cell phone company he once chaired.
The nation’s new leader is set to deliver a State of the Nation address on Friday.
Alexandra Ma contributed to this report.