7 May 2009
Opposition parties welcomed the election of Jacob Zuma as President of the country by members of Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, saying they were hopeful that he would bring about change and speed up service delivery to millions of poor South Africans.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would hold Zuma statements he made earlier, such as committing himself to the independence of the judiciary. “We hope you will put the lives of ordinary South Africans first, ahead of party politics,” DA member Ian Davidson said following Zuma’s election on Wednesday.
“We need a leader that will give all South Africans hope and lead us to a better life.”
The Congress of the People’s (Cope’s) Mvume Dandala also welcomed Zuma’s election, saying he hoped this would bring to an end to divisions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
“We, on these opposition benches, simply ask him to trust in the future of democracy and the common sense of the South African people. The Republic is looking for leadership and direction,” Dandala said, adding that the country’s opposition parties were willing to work with the ANC to improve the lives of ordinary people.
‘Make implementation key’
The Independent Democrats’ Patricia de Lille said her party hoped the President-elect would create a public health system using his presidential mandate, as well as to fight crime and find ways to soften the effects of the global financial crisis.
She said the ANC had good polices, the only problem was with their implementation. “We hope that the President-elect will make implementation key,” she said, adding that she hoped he would choose a Cabinet team that would complement him.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFF) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in a read speech that his party hoped the new administration would continue to respect the independence of South Africa’s state institutions.
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Moshoeu said the country was “crying out for strong leadership,” and it was hoped that Zuma’s election would unify the nation.
‘Realising Mandela’s vision’
In his response, Zuma promised to lead the country towards the realisation of Nelson Mandela’s vision of a truly non-sexist, non-racial South Africa, united in its diversity.
“With the support of my organization, 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,” he said.
He noted that people had high expectations of his time in office, saying: “We will do our best to be more hands-on, more accessible and to deliver on their commitments.
“We also intend to start a new chapter in relations between [the] government and the opposition,” Zuma said. “We reiterate that it should be possible to work with opposition parties on issues that are in the national interest.”
13 parties in Parliament
Following the general elections of 22 April, a total of 13 political parties are represented in South Africa’s National Assembly. The African National Congress holds 264 seats, the Democratic Alliance 67 seats, the Congress of the People 30 seats and the Inkatha Freedom Party 18 seats.
The Freedom Front Plus, Independent Democrats and United Democratic Movement each have four seats, the African Christian Democratic Party has three seats, the United Christian Democratic Party has two, while the African People’s Convention, Azanian People’s Organisation, Minority Front and Pan Africanist Congress of Azania each have one.
South Africa’s Parliament is made up of two houses – the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, which represents the country’s nine provinces to ensure that their interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government.
There are 400 Members of Parliament in the National Assembly and 90 members in the National Council of Provinces.