Tinubu Rejoices with Cyril Ramaphosa on Re-election as South African President

*Calls for strengthening of bilateral ties between Nigeria, South AfricaDeji Elumoye in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has extended his warm congratulations to his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, on his re-election.

The president, in a statement issued yesterday by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, also rejoiced with the people of South Africa on the peaceful and successful conduct of the general election.

While wishing President Ramaphosa a successful term in office, President Tinubu called for the strengthening of bilateral ties between Nigeria and South Africa as strategic partners in Africa for the overall advancement of the continent.

South Africa’s parliament on Friday re-elected Ramaphosa as the country’s president following a historic coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC), the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and other smaller parties.

The ANC lost its controlling majority in last month’s election after ruling for 30 years since the end of apartheid.
Out of 400 seats in the National Assembly, the ruling party was only able to secure 159, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.

The DA had 87 seats, while the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, backed by former President Jacob Zuma, won 58.
“I, accordingly, declare honourable M.C. Ramaphosa duly elected President,” Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said after the votes were counted.

Last month’s election marked a historic turning point for South Africa, ending three decades of dominance by the ANC of the late Nelson Mandela.

The party that led the struggle to end apartheid won only 40 per cent of the vote and, for the first time, lost its absolute majority in parliament.

It has now struck a deal to form what it calls a government of national unity.

ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula said on Friday the broad coalition brings together a majority of the 18 parties that won representation in the 400-seat National Assembly.

These include the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA), the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and other smaller groups.

According to AFP, Ramaphosa was re-elected by fellow MPs with 283 votes in a secret ballot.

He saw off a last-minute challenge by Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose candidacy gained 44 votes.

In his victory speech, the president hailed the new coalition and urged the party members to prioritise South Africans.
John Steenhuisen, leader of the DA, said he was looking forward to working on “serving the people of the country and building a better future”.

“I think we get an opportunity today to write a new chapter for South Africa and that chapter I think we can make the best chapter ever. No party has got a majority. We are required to work together and we are going to do it,” he added.

Ramaphosa will be sworn in next week in Pretoria and then unveil his new cabinet. He is expected to include members of the other parties in his cabinet.

Earlier, Zondo had opened the parliament’s first sitting, swearing in MPs in batches ahead of votes on the election of a speaker and deputy speaker.

The first post went to the ANC’s Thoko Didiza and, in a first sign the power-sharing deal was working, the second went to the DA’s Annelie Lotriet. Both are women.

Lawmakers cast their ballots, one by one, in a lengthy ceremony held in a Cape Town convention centre, as the parliament building is being rebuilt after a 2022 fire.

EFF members took the oath wearing red overalls and in some cases rubber boots and plastic construction worker helmets.
They declined to support the incoming administration, having refused to countenance joining an alliance with right-wing or white-led parties.

“This is not a government of national unity; this is a grand coalition between the ANC and white monopoly capital. History will judge you harshly,” Malema said after conceding defeat.

Graft-tainted former president Jacob Zuma’s new party uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which came third in the May 29 election, has disputed the results and its MPs boycotted Friday’s sitting.

“The sitting of the national assembly today as far as we’re concerned is illegal and unconstitutional,” MK spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela told AFP.

A former trade unionist turned millionaire businessman, Ramaphosa will preside over a government combining radically different political views.

The ANC is a historically pan-Africanist, progressive party of the left that has overseen welfare and economic empowerment programmes for poor, black South Africans. 

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