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South African lawmakers formally elect Ramaphosa as nation's president

Mike Cohen, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South African lawmakers elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the nation's president Wednesday, a formality that followed his ruling African National Congress' outright victory in this month's elections.

A lawyer, former labor union leader and one of the richest black South Africans, the 66-year-old Ramaphosa first took office 15 months ago after the ANC forced Jacob Zuma to step down in the wake of a succession of scandals. Securing his own mandate in the May 8 election, which saw the ANC secure 57.5% of the vote, could give Ramaphosa greater political authority to meet his pledges of tackling corruption and reviving the sagging economy.

The National Assembly unanimously approved Ramaphosa's appointment for a five-year term at a sitting in Cape Town. He is due to be sworn in at the Loftus Versveld rugby stadium in the capital, Pretoria, on Saturday and will name his new Cabinet soon after that. While previous inaugurations have taken place in front of the Union Buildings where the government is based, the venue was changed this year to cut costs.

New lawmakers were sworn in earlier Wednesday and elected Thandi Modise as the speaker of the National Assembly, in place of Baleka Mbete, and Lechesa Tsenoli as her deputy. Deputy President David Mabuza's reappointment is in doubt after he delayed taking the oath as a member of parliament to defend claims by a ruling party committee that he had brought the ANC into disrepute.

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