by Al Bloomfield
Thursday February 15, 2018
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – South African President Jacob Zuma is out of office. Mr. Zuma, 75, has been brought down by a crushing avalanche of corruption scandals that have nearly destroyed the ruling political party – the African National Congress, or ANC.
Numerous attempts by Mr. Zuma’s political enemies to remove him from office as president have previously failed leading to him being referred to as the “Teflon President”. But then things started to change. In December 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa (rah-mah-fo-sah) was chosen president of the African National Congress (ANC). Mr. Ramaphosa, 65, had been President Nelson Mandela’s choice to succeed him as president. But in 1997 Mr. Ramaphosa lost the presidential election in the National Assembly in Cape Town to Thabo Mbeki – an anti-apartheid activist in exile who returned to South Africa to run successfully for president. Since then, Cyril Ramaphosa has made his fortune as a businessman with a net worth of about $550 million. After taking over the ANC he became deputy president of South Africa, and perhaps the greatest threat to President Zuma.
On Tuesday February 13th, the ANC (with Cyril Ramaphosa in charge of the party) after failing privately to convince President Zuma to resign, demanded his publicly resignation. On Wednesday, February 14 the ANC called for a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly against President Zuma. On Thursday, February 15 Jacob Zuma finally resigned the presidency of South Africa that he had held for a tumultuous, scandal plagued years. Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president, was elected president of South Africa by the ANC-dominated National Assembly.
South Africa is almost entirely unique in the world in how she chooses her chief executives. The president of South Africa is elected, not directly by the voters, but by the voters’ representatives in the National Assembly. This method has served to prevent the sort of national electoral chaos that we have seen around the world from the Republic of Kenya to the United States of America. Any candidate for president must be a sitting member of the National Assembly, as was the case with Cyril Ramaphosa. This is not too unlike the College of Cardinals electing a new Pope from among the Cardinals themselves. However, the most notable difference is that by electing a member of the National Assembly, they are electing to the presidency someone who already holds office by virtue of being elected by the People. The Chief Justice of South Africa is tasked with overseeing the presidential election. Once elected, the new president is no longer a member of the National Assembly. South African president serve five years with a limit of two terms. This has prevented the accumulation of power in any one person.
President Ramaphosa then gave a speech before the National Assembly in which he promised to clean up South Africa. After Mr. Ramaphosa’s maiden speech, the Hawks – South Africa’s elite police force , were already hunting Ajay Gupta – a corrupt Zuma-associate who failed to turn himself in. He is a member of the wealthy and very powerful Gupta family. The cleanup of South Africa has begun, but only begun. The Ramaphosa presidency may be the future, but the Zuma past is still with South Africa.
Sources of information for this report included CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
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