Following the tumultuous 9-year rule of Jacob Zuma, the South African parliament elected his former deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa to be the country's president.

Acting President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the parliament, in Cape Town shortly before he was elected president of the country.
Acting President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the parliament, in Cape Town shortly before he was elected president of the country. ( Reuters )

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected South Africa's president in a parliamentary vote on Thursday after scandal-ridden Jacob Zuma resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress.

Ramaphosa was elected unopposed, but the election came only after the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters members walked out of the session, claiming that the entire parliament which had failed to hold Zuma to account, did not have the authority to elect a president.

Its firebrand leader Julius Malema said the parliament should be dissolved and a new election called.

Addressing parliament, Ramaphosa thanked all the members of parliament for electing him.

He said he was humbled and would seek to work with all political parties.

“When one is elected in this type of position you basically become a servant of the people of South Africa. I would seek to execute that task with humility, with faithfulness and with dignity as well. That is what I will seek to do as well.”

He said he would seek to address the issues that had dogged the administration of his predecessor, especially corruption, and that he was willing to work with opposition parties.

TRT World's Melanie Rice reports from Cape Town on how people are hoping the new leader will reform the state.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party the Democratic Alliance said, “I want you to know that if you act in the interest of the people of South Africa, we will cooperate as best as we can to assist in that mission.”

Opposition leaders in general congratulated Ramaphosa on his election, but warned they would be holding him to account and urged him to address the economic woes of the country.

"Defiant in defeat" and "Going, Going, Gone" were some of the newspaper headlines that captured Zuma's reluctance to leave early on Thursday morning.

"South Africa's long nightmare is over," read the headline of an analysis on online news site Daily Maverick.

The foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela said on Thursday Zuma's resignation brought to an end "a painful era for the country."

The ANC hailed Zuma's decision to resign.

TRT World's Ben Said has more on the story.

The road back to prosperity and self-respect under Ramaphosa, who became ANC head in December, will be long and hard in a nation divided by race and inequality.

But Zuma's departure offers evidence of the strength of South Africa's institutions, from the courts to the media and the constitution. He resigned as president late on Wednesday after nine years in office.

The 75-year-old said in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation he disagreed with the way the ANC had pushed him towards an early exit after Ramaphosa replaced him as party president but would accept its orders.

Ramaphosa's first state of the nation address was expected to take place on Friday, although this is not certain. The speech had been scheduled to be delivered by Zuma last Thursday but was postponed after pressure mounted for him to resign.

The rand currency, which gained ground whenever Zuma hit political turbulence, soared to a near three-year high against the dollar on Zuma's resignation.

"One chapter in South Africa's political soap-opera has finally ended with the resignation last night of President Jacob Zuma," NKC African Economics analysts wrote in a note.

"It would be gratifying to see the dedication and purpose the ANC put into ridding itself of Zuma now be directed into rebuilding the economy, dealing with the corruption still residing in the ANC and improving its shoddy governance record."

Zuma's resignation came just hours after police raided the luxury home of the Gupta family, Indian-born billionaire allies of the former president who have been at the centre of corruption allegations against Zuma and his circle for years.

Zuma and the Guptas have always denied wrongdoing.

Police on Thursday said eight people had been arrested during the raids on various properties in Johannesburg.

State broadcaster SABC said a Gupta family member was among those detained, while a senior judicial source said police were expected to arrest up to seven more people and that Gupta family members would be among them.

Police said the raid was in connection with a state-funded dairy farm, which prosecutors last month called a "scheme designed to defraud and steal."

The suspects  were expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Local media also reported that Duduzane Zuma, the son of Zuma was also wanted by police.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies