Political parties have rallied behind Cyril Ramaphosa, electing him uncontested as the president of South Africa.
This afternoon, the National Assembly elected a new speaker, deputy speaker and president for the sixth Parliament, which sat for the first time today.
The leader of the official opposition, Mmusi Maimane, pledged his support for Ramaphosa, saying that he had the support of the DA as long as he made decisions which were in the best interests of South Africans. He also called for “a season of collaboration” across party lines.
The United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa told what appeared to be an emotional Ramaphosa that “ikhela” – a reference to the late former president Nelson Mandela, with whom both men shared a close relationship – was looking down with pride on the moment. He also referred to Ramaphosa as “nobhala”, a reference to Ramaphosa’s time as secretary-general of the ANC.
The EFF’s Julius Malema also pledged his support to Ramaphosa, but warned that it was not unconditional. He referred Ramaphosa to advice he gave to former president Jacob Zuma. Malema said he warned Zuma that the Guptas did not elect him. Ramaphosa must also remember that he had not been elected by “Stellenbosch, the Oppenheimers or the Ruperts”.
Thandi Modise was nominated by the ANC for the position of speaker and the DA nominated Thembekile Majola. After more than an hour of counting, Modise was elected with 250 votes as the speaker.
In a heartwarming tribute, Malema said that Modise was an uncompromising leader.
“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate mbokodo yeMkhonto weSizwe Thandi Modise, a militant and uncompromising woman who led from the front when it was not fashionable to do so. Here the ANC has managed to deploy a trusted force of our people,” Malema said.
“There will be heated moments; there will be a robust debate. We should never degenerate and be partisan when the house degenerates. You should remain and be the speaker of all of us, because if you degenerate, you will never get this house in order.
“You must always know that you might be coming from particular political party but sitting up there, you now preside over all of us. We are all your children. Treat us equally, we will return the favour. Once we feel targeted and neglected we shall show you the other side of us. If we all treat each other with respect you have nothing to worry about,” Malema said.
“We grew up under your leadership; we know when we see you, we see Winnie Mandela in action. We are happy that you were not part of the people who once denounced and disowned Winnie Mandela, you stood with her when it was not fashionable to do so. That is why you are a dependable force of our people.”
Lechesa Tsenoli was elected uncontested for the position of deputy speaker, the same position he held in the fifth Parliament.
Ramaphosa will be inaugurated on Saturday in Pretoria. It is expected that he will announce his Cabinet on Monday.