Cyril Ramaphosa has ushered in a new dawn in South Africa after being sworn in as head of state following an unopposed nomination in parliament.
The 65-year-old Ramaphosa cut an astute and somewhat emotional figure with his election eventually resulting in his swearing in Cape Town by the late yesterday.
Following the election, Ramaphosa told the National Assembly he would be attending parliament regularly to exercise his responsibility of answering questions on a range of matters that affects the lives of “our people”.
He reiterated his commitment to the country as being a servant of the people and a catalyst for improving lives.
His refreshing approach is a far cry from what South Africans have been exposed to under ousted president Jacob Zuma – with parliament putting him under heavy scrutiny rather than tackling the country’s ordinary needs.
“I will seek to work with all political parties,” Ramaphosa said, adding that he would meet opposition leaders. “I am heartened by some of the sentiments expressed here about working together.”
He was referring to prior congratulatory messages from opposition leaders, including the DA, IFP, UDM, NFP and ACDP.
The EFF, however, chose to stage a walkout prior to his nomination. Parties pointed to, among others, working against corruption and providing opportunities for the people.
“I will do all this as a servant of our people,” he said. “I do believe that when one is elected in this type of position … you basically become a servant of the people of South Africa.
And I will seek to execute that task with humility, with faithfulness and with dignity as well.
That is what I will seek to do.
“And I would like to thank all the parties who have spoken … listening to all the parties who have expressed a whole lot of sentiments here … is almost like in our culture, when a young man becomes a man … You are almost given instructions. It’s almost like saying to me: ‘We are offering you advice … We are offering you suggestions’ Some have even offered some threats.
“Many of you have spoken about unity and patriotism.
You have spoken largely about how we can all work together to improve the lives of our people. That has a great deal of resonance which I believe in, in what I intend to do.”
He further urged opposition parties to leave aside the 2019 national electioneering tactics for now and deal with improving South African lives “rather than grandstanding on big platforms”. “That’s all I want to say … South Africa must come first in everything that we do.”
Ramaphosa added it would be suitable if the level of debate in parliament was raised on relevant issues rather than “screaming” at each other.
“I will want us to rise to that level … This flip side of that coin also says that we should respect one another.”