Former anti-apartheid activist turned successful businessman, Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president of South Africa by a parliamentary vote less than 16 hours after the resignation of Jacob Zuma on Wednesday. Maphorisa has been the Deputy President of South Africa since 2014 and was elected as President of the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC) at the national conference in Nasrec, South of Johannesburg in December 2017. He is also the Chairman of the National Planning Commission which is responsible for strategic planning for the future of South Africa, with the goal of rallying the nation “around a common set of objectives and priorities to drive development over the longer term”. It is no doubt that party strategists had been working on removing Jacob Zuma whose 8 year tenure was marred by economic decline and multiple charges of graft, undermining the image and legitimacy of the party that led the struggle against apartheid. In a bid to allow the ANC regroup before the commencement of campaigns for the 2019 general elections, these party executives worked for Ramaphosa’s victory and sidelined Jacob Zuma in the bitterly contested party leadership elections last year.
The party’s national executive committee ordered Zuma’s recall from office on Tuesday, after a 13-hour meeting at a hotel outside Pretoria. ANC officials had said that if Zuma did not resign on Wednesday, the party’s lawmakers in the Cape Town parliament would vote out Zuma on Thursday. However, in a 30-minute national television address on Wednesday, Zuma said he had “come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect”.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s major challenge as president will be to reassure foreign investors and local businesses of his support and of course create measures to address South Africa’s deep problems in the last few years. Jacob Zuma, 75, also a former anti-apartheid activist who has led the ANC since 2007 and been South Africa’s president since 2009, was due to leave power next year.