President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa was conciliatory to his opponents in the national assembly after his election as president of South Africa. He spoke of collegiality and of being a servant of the people. Ramaphosa also called on politicians to respect parliament because it represented the people
“I will be a servant of the people of South Africa,” said Ramaphosa, after the leaders of opposition parties – or their representatives – had paid tribute to him. The Economic Freedom Fighters did not participate in the election of the president.
Ramaphosa responded to each opposition leader, including Leader of the Opposition Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance. Maimane said he would see Ramaphosa on the hustings in the election campaign of 2019. “I think he (Maimane) is running ahead of himself. Honourable Maimane I am going to be seeing you regularly in this house. Leave (the national election) 2019 aside.”
Ramaphosa said that he would like to thank all parties that had spoken praise but had also provided advice. He said he would be holding a meeting shortly with all the political party leaders in parliament to thrash out matters of public interest.
Turning to his former ANC comrade United Democratic Movement leader General Bantu Holomisa, he said that he was happy “to sit together and eating meat… I will take you up on that”. Holomisa topped the poll at the 1990 ANC national conferences when Ramaphosa was elected secretary general.
Ramaphosa said Holomisa had since then called him “Secretary-General” and he had always referred to him as “General”, Ramaphosa reported. “I agree with you (that we) should find ways of working together on issues of working together on issues of national interest.”
Turning to opposition leaders, he said: “What all of you have been saying… we are offering you advice, suggestions, some have even offered some threats. Many of you have spoken about unity, patriotism, about how we can work together. That has a great deal of resonance that I believe in… that is what I intend to do.”
Ramaphosa said: “Let us deal with the current moment and work together… rather than grandstanding.”
Referring to Singh’s warnings that matters needed to be taken in hand as far as corruption was concerned. Noting that there were issues of corruption, tackling state capture and a need to “straighten out state-owned enterprises”, Ramaphosa said simply: These were issues “on the radar screen”. His government would have an opportunity to outline some of the steps it was taking.
In a reference to the absence of the Economic Freedom Fighters, he said he agreed with the Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald who urged that the level of debate in the house should be raised. “I want to join you in saying …engage on national issues (in the house) without screaming at each other.”
“In respecting one another it means that we are respecting this house that our people set up,” he said. “Let us underpin everything we do here with respect. When they (the people) look at this parliament they see themselves represented. They don’t want to see disorder. They want to see debates that see improvement in their lives. Let us rise to that occasion.”