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Humility, faithfulness and dignity

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Ramaphosa urged MPs to do things differently, including ensuring that there is order at parliament

Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO: ANA PHOTO

Newly elected state president Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday promised humility, faithfulness and dignity in the execution of his duties as the country’s number one citizen.

“I will do this as a servant of the people. I believe that when one gets elected to this position you become a servant of the people of South Africa and I will seek to execute this task with humility, faithfulness and dignity as well,” he told members of parliament.

Making a brief acceptance speech after he was elected unopposed by parliament, Ramaphosa described the moment as a humbling experience.

He called for a more collegial relationship with opposition parties saying the primary task for all parties is to ensure a better life for all citizens.

“You have spoken largely about how we can all work together to improve the lives of our people and that has a great deal of resonance with what I believe in and what I intend to do,” he told opposition members.

During the speech Ramaphosa also promised accountability, making an undertaking to members of parliament that he will visit the House on a regular basis to interact with them and respond to their questions on a range of issues affecting South Africa.

To see through his dream of a harmonious relationship between various political parties, Ramaphosa said he will be meeting with the leaders of the various parties.

Ramaphosa’s election was hailed by some as a new beginning following the tumultuous past eight years under the leadership of Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa urged MPs to do things differently, including ensuring that there is order at parliament where some of the sittings have degenerated into chaos and violence.

“In respecting one another it means we are respecting this house that our people set up.” While many of the opposition parties were congratulating Ramaphosa yesterday, there were already signs that he will not be treated with kid gloves by the opposition.

Julius Malema had earlier led the walkout by EFF MPs as the party refused to be part of the election of the president saying it will not legitimise the process.

Later DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the removal of Zuma did not mean that the country’s problems are over. What the country had experienced was not a Zuma problem but an ANC problem because the party had shielded Zuma, Maimane charged.

He later said the opposition was looking forward to meeting the ANC at the 2019 polls.

Ramaphosa hit back at Maimane for what he called grandstanding.

“I think he is running ahead of himself. Honourable Maimane I am going to be seeing you regularly here in this house. Leave 2019 aside let us deal with the current moment rather than grandstanding, that is all I want to say,” he said to applause from the ANC benches.

The next few days are expected to shed more light on what the Ramaphosa presidency has in store for South Africa. There is already so much expectation that the State of the Nation Address will reveal details of how Ramaphosa will seek to rebuild the economy of the country which seems to be one of the main concerns for his supporters.

Some of the other more pressing issues include intensifying the fight against corruption, fixing state-owned enterprises, fighting unemployment, and creating jobs.

Yesterday Ramaphosa said that one of the things that his speech will focus on is the issue of corruption and state capture as he would reveal more details about how this would be dealt with.

Trade union federation Fedusa said one of the main issues facing the country was the high rate of unemployment adding that Ramaphosa should create a positive atmosphere.

“Government needs to prioritise the fast tracking of the dire situation at most state owned from a position of state capture and corruption to good and clean governance and root out all forms of corruption and ensure that the budgetary process translates into reassured confidence and increased investments,” said Fedusa General Secretary Dennis George.

Ramaphosa is expected to also use his first State of the Nation Address to unpack and allay fears over some policies adopted by the ANC at its December conference.

Economists at auditing firm PwC said one of the issues that Ramaphosa will have to focus on is the policy of radical economic transformation.

“The strategies behind this economic transformation remains opaque: Investor confidence will depend on having more information on how the economy would be transformed,” said the economists in a statement.