‘An era of hope’: Ramaphosa calls for national unity after being re-elected president

President Cyril Ramaphosa, re-elected after a marathon National Assembly session, calls for unity and cooperation among South Africans in his first address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, re-elected after a marathon National Assembly session, calls for unity and cooperation among South Africans in his first address.

Published Jun 14, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his first address to the nation after being re-elected president on Friday night following a marathon sitting of the National Assembly, called on South Africans to work together.

In a speech that went on past midnight, Ramaphosa said he accepted the “big responsibility” of leading the country.

“Your messages are a clear clarion call for working together. Your messages constitute what I see as a well of encouragement, of good advice, and of wisdom,” he told the newly sworn Members of Parliament.

“I want to thank the members of this august house who have voted for me, who, through their votes, have invested and placed their trust in me. I intend to work with all members and indeed to work together with even those who did not vote for me,” Ramaphosa said.

“We are all South Africans, and I want to serve all and work with even those who did not support me tonight. It’s not so much the result of the vote that was delivered, but the historic meaning of the vote and this moment that we find ourselves in that is truly significant. That a number of parties that had opposed each other but represent the majority of South Africans have decided to work together to deliver this result has given birth to a new era for our country. I do sincerely believe that. This is an era of hope. And it’s also an era of inclusivity, as diverse political parties who competed against each other in the election we just had,” he said.

Ramaphosa was elected president of the seventh administration of the Republic of South Africa after fending off a challenge by EFF leader, Julius Malema by 283 votes to 44 with the help of his partners in the newly formed Government of National Unity, that includes the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party, the Patriotic Alliance and Freedom Front Plus.

Ramaphosa said the results of the general elections on May 29 were made clear by the electorate, who wanted the leaders of the country to work together.

“They expect the parties for which they voted to find common ground, to overcome their differences, to act and work together for the good of everyone in our country. The stark reality of the results of our past election is that no single party represented in this house achieved an outright majority to work alone, legislatively and also at the executive level. Through their votes, our people expect all parties to work together within the framework of our Constitution and to work as political parties to achieve the objectives of a democratic society based on non-racialism, non-sexism, peace, and justice, to ensure stability and to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, and to achieve prosperity for all,” Ramaphosa said.

Hitting back at critics who said the formation of the new government was not a government of national unity but a “grand coalition between the ANC and DA,” Ramaphosa said, “I wish to state very clearly this is not a grand coalition of two or three parties. It is a government of national unity that we are constituting, and we’ve been here before. We were here in 1994 when we sought to unite our country and effect reconciliation. We are here now, as directed by the votes that our people delivered, to work together to ensure that we address the challenges that they face. And this we shall do, and this is what I am committed to achieving as the President of the Republic of South Africa.”

The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters said the ANC and DA joining forces to ensure Ramaphosa was elected was “a marriage that seeks to undermine the changing of property relations in South Africa”.

“We refuse to sell out. We have never done so when we're young, and we're not going to do so today. We don't have a history of being collaborators.

"We are going to ensure that this parliament is functional. We can reassure you that will not fight with any bouncers. We're going to be the best and effective opposition that is going to ensure that both you and the DA are held accountable. This is not a government of national unity. This is a grand coalition between the ANC and the white monopoly capital. History will judge you and judge you harshly," Malema said.

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