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Jacob Zuma elected South African president

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Top stories
06 May 2009

ANC leader receives 277 votes in national assembly to Mvume Dandala's 47

PARLIAMENT (Sapa) - ANC president Jacob Zuma is officially South Africa's fourth president-elect.

Zuma beat Mvume Dandala of the Congress of the People by 277 votes to 47 in the 400 seat National Assembly on Wednesday.

The Democratic Alliance's 67 MPs all abstained and there were three spoiled ballots.

Zuma will be inaugurated in Pretoria on Saturday.

In his brief acceptance speech, Zuma said he was overwhelmed by the responsibility that had been "thrust" upon him and humbled by the opportunity to serve as South Africa's fourth president.

South Africa was a "remarkable country with very special people", having made history in 1994 when "together we discarded our tragic past and opted for harmony, peace, and stability" instead.

Zuma said he hoped to lead the country on a path of friendship, co-operation, unity and faster change.

He also intended to "start a new chapter" in relations between government and opposition parties.

His administration would concentrate on the five priorities of education, health, land reform and rural development, crime fighting and job creation.

"We are determined to leave our indelible mark in these five areas," Zuma said.

He also thanked and lauded outgoing President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Zuma was congratulated by all opposition parties, who also warned they would continue to play their role as watchdog.

Zuma will be inaugurated in Pretoria on Saturday.

Earlier, Zuma was nominated by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, but when Chief Justice Pius Langa called for further nominations, Cope's Mbhazima Shilowa nominated Dandala.

On Wednesday morning, African National Congress national executive committee member Max Sisulu was elected Speaker of the Assembly, with Nomaindia Mfeketo as his deputy.

This followed immediately after Langa had sworn in the Assembly's 400 newly elected MPs in batches of ten.

Earlier the new COPE MPs had received a cool welcome from the ANC benches in the Assembly.

When Cope leaders Mbhazima Shilowa, Dandala and Smuts Ngonyama were called forward to take their MP oaths the sound of jeers and boos filled the assembly.

Former Congress of SA Trade Unions president Willie Madisha, now sitting in the back benches of Parliament for Cope, also received a sarcastic welcome from his former allies.

"I did expect that we would receive a different reception," Ngonyama, the former ANC spokesman, said outside the National Assembly.

"But we started Cope with conviction and resolve to make sure the ruling party is challenged and to make sure that we have a stronger democracy."

Ngonyama said he felt strange to be up against his former colleagues.

"It did feel strange," he said.

"But we are determined to build strong debate in Parliament."

New MPs took the oath or made a solemn affirmation in groups of 10 under the watchful gaze of VIPs and guests filling the public galleries above.

Zuma, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande were among the first to raise their right hands and accept their seats in the Assembly.

Education Minister Naledi Pandor rounded off the first 10.

Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya was not among the ANC MPs who took the oath. The party announced on Wednesday that he has resigned his seat for health reasons.

Jacob Zuma's first speech as South African president

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Jacob Zuma
06 May 2009

Promise made of new chapter in relations between govt and opposition


Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
Honourable President of the Republic of South Africa,
Honourable Members,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I stand before this House and the nation overwhelmed by the responsibility that is being thrust upon my shoulders.

I am truly humbled by the opportunity to serve as the fourth President of the democratic Republic of South Africa.

South Africa is a remarkable country with very special people. We normally get caught up in our day-to-day challenges and forget to appreciate this fact. We made history in the world in 1994 when together we discarded our tragic past, and opted for a future of harmony, peace and stability.

We elected our first President, our icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whom we all love dearly. Madiba taught us the importance of forgiveness, reconciliation and humility.

He made us walk tall and feel proud to be South Africans.

As President of the Republic, I will do my best to lead the country towards the realisation of Madiba's vision of a truly non-sexist, non-racial South Africa, united in its diversity.

With the support of my organisation the ANC, as well as all South Africans, I hope to lead the country on a path of friendship, cooperation, harmony, unity and faster change.

Honourable Members, we have just emerged from very vibrant elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission, which can always be relied upon to deliver free and fair elections, rose to the occasion.

The millions of South African voters made us, their public representatives, the custodians of their hopes and dreams.

The next five years will depend on us as public representatives to serve them with dignity and respect and to maintain the decorum of Parliament, which is the face of our democracy.

Our people have high expectations. As the Executive, we will do our best to be more hands-on, more accessible and to deliver on our commitments.

We also intend to start a new chapter in relations between Government and the Opposition. We reiterate that it should be possible to work with Opposition parties on issues that are in the national interest.

While appreciating a robust Opposition, we also trust that we will be able to move slightly away from the dogmatic approach, which turns every issue into a contentious one.

On the side of the Executive, we will also need to try to avoid being over-defensive, and not view all criticism from the Opposition in a negative light.

We can surely be able to build a working relationship that emphasizes oversight, while also allowing cooperation where necessary.

Honourable members, it is going to be a busy five years. We have deliberately given ourselves five priorities to focus on which will make us more effective in implementation.

As you are aware we will focus on education, health, land reform and rural development, the fight against crime as well as creating decent work. We are determined to leave an indelible mark in these five areas.

Our most immediate priority is to respond decisively to the challenges posed by the global economic downturn.

We must move quickly to implement the framework agreed by government, business and labour to protect jobs and boost the economy.

It is my fervent hope that our public servants heard our campaign message and understand that it shall not be business as usual. We expect hard work and utmost dedication.

Honourable Members, allow me to point out that it was quite a moving moment for me to be sworn in again as a Member of Parliament, even though my membership was just for a few hours.

I have a special relationship with Parliament, especially this House.

I have sat in various sections and now know every corner of the House.

In 1994 I used to sit in the cross-benches as an NCOP KwaZulu-Natal representative, when I was still MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism. In 1999 I moved to the front benches as Deputy President of the Republic.

Members who were part of the last Parliament will confirm that I was a very well behaved Member. I attended sessions and presented myself timeously for the fortnightly Deputy President's question time.

I dutifully answered all questions, amid occasional heckling from the Opposition benches.

Honourable Members who would not let me rest and kept me very busy with questions included the Honourable Koos van der Merwe and Velaphi Ndlovu of the IFP, Pieter Mulder of FF Plus and the Honourable Cherilyne Dudley of the ACDP.

I was also a proud recipient of little notes from Honourable Members from various political parties, usually gossiping about each other, which I have kept very safely at home.

I left rather unceremoniously on the 14th of June 2005, without an opportunity to say goodbye to all my friends. However, Members will recall that I continued to visit, now sitting in the public gallery during the opening of Parliament and other occasions.

However, despite all this dedication, I automatically lose my seat on being elected President!  I am therefore considering running for honorary life membership! I am sure that even the DA would support such a motion!

Honourable Members, let me use this opportunity to congratulate our new Presiding Officers, and wish them well on their appointments.

We also recognise the contribution of all our former Presiding Officers.

We must also acknowledge and thank the outgoing Cabinet for their good service. I will not dwell too much on the matter of Cabinet, Honourable Speaker. I understand the anxiety.

I intend to have my Cabinet assume office by the 11th of May, so that we can get down to business. I have gained immensely from the wisdom of the top five ANC officials whom I have consulted on the matter.

I should be able to produce a team that will work very hard, and with the necessary speed. We mean business when we talk about faster change.

The new team will build on the work of the Cabinet of my long-time friend, comrade and brother, the outgoing President of the Republic, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe.

On behalf of all South Africans, let me extend our sincerest gratitude to President Motlanthe for his service to the nation.  He has acquitted himself well, and has definitely been equal to the task.

Honourable Members, I also wish to reiterate our appreciation to all South Africans for participating actively in the elections.  We must emphasise that the responsibility of voters did not end at the polling stations.

Working together we must now do much more to build a better South Africa.

I wish all Honourable Members an enjoyable, successful and fruitful stay in Parliament.

I thank you all for your confidence in me and in the ANC.

Jacob Zuma

Issued by the African National Congress

President Zuma must respect and uphold the Constitution - DA

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Ian Davidson, MP
06 May 2009

Statement by Chief Whip Ian Davidson, MP, parliament May 6 2009

Speech given by DA Chief Whip Ian Davidson, at the First Session of South Africa's Fourth Parliament, Cape Town, May 6 2009

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) I would like to congratulate President-elect Jacob Zuma on his election as the next president of South Africa.

The President-elect will take up the highest office in the land with a great deal of support, but also with the burden of high expectations on his shoulders. The most important job for the new President will be to build a society in which all South Africans have the opportunity to improve their lives.

It is our sincere wish that he will rise to this challenge.

We hope the President-elect will act to bring South Africans together and build confidence in our future.

We call on him in particular to ensure the Constitution, and the critical institutions that uphold constitutional values, are protected and strengthened. After years of bitter conflict these very foundations of our democratic order are in desperate need of healing and repair.

The DA for its part will support the President-elect in any endeavour which respects and upholds the Constitution and which will make real and sustainable inroads into rolling back crime, poverty and unemployment.

There are, however, serious issues that must still be resolved regarding the alleged conduct of the President-elect.

The real test of the forthcoming presidency will be whether the judicial process is allowed to run its course in an unimpeded and dignified manner.

For the sake of the future of our democracy, it is a test we dare not fail as a nation.

Ian Davidson

Issued by the Democratic Alliance

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