Opposition parties welcome Zuma's election as President

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Parliament - President-elect Jacob Zuma has received an overwhelming welcome from opposition parties in the National Assembly.

Members of Parliament have described him as "a humble and down-to-earth man".

However, political parties were equally unanimous in their hope that he would accelerate service delivery to millions of poor South Africans.

Mr Zuma was a short while ago, elected as President of the Republic by an outright majority in the National Assembly. He will be inaugurated as President at a prestigious ceremony at the Union Buildings on Saturday.

Opposition parties, speaking in the National Assembly, after the election said they were hopeful that Mr Zuma would bring change to the country.

"We hope you will put the lives of ordinary South Africans first ahead of party politics," said Democratic Alliance member, Ian Davidson.

"We need a leader that will give all South African's hope and lead us to a better life," he said.

The Democratic Alliance said it would hold him to statements made earlier, such as committing himself to the independence of the judiciary.

"The challenge for Mr Zuma is to rise above the ruling party's internal power play and govern in the best interests of the people of South Africa between now and the next election," Mr Davidson said.

Congress of the People's Mvume Dandala also welcomed Mr Zuma's election, saying that it was hoped that his election would bring to an end problems within the ruling 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," said Rev Dandala, adding that they were willing to work with the ruling party to improve the lives of ordinary people.

Mr Dandala received 47 of the 327 votes that were cast by members of parliament to elect the country's new president. A total of three ballot papers were spoilt.

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 but the problem was with their implementation. "We hope that the President-elect will make implementation key," she said, hoping that he would choose a team that would complement him.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, whose speech was read by another MP, Musa Zondi, said they hoped for an abiding respect of the institutions of the Republic.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Reverend Kenneth Moshoeu said the country was "crying out for strong leadership" and it was hoped that Mr Zuma's election would now unify the nation.

Responding to the welcoming comments received at the National Assembly, President-elect Zuma promised 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 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 in his acceptance speech.

He said he noted that people have high expectations. In this regard, he said "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 Government and the Opposition. We reiterate that it should be possible to work with opposition parties on issues that are in the national interest."