A joint session of South Africa's
parliament is expected to affirm last month's election of African National
Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma Wednesday. He would be sworn in on Saturday. Anticipation among Zuma
supporters has been running high since the party won an overwhelming majority
in the April 22 general elections. The ANC fell short of its expected
two-thirds majority in parliament to allow the party to amend the constitution
without opposition input.
South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)
political editor Xolani Xundu told VOA that South Africans hope things will
improve under Zuma's presidency.
a big day for South Africans, and people who are interested in following
politics in this country and the region and internationally. Because today, the
ANC president and South Africa president-in-waiting Jacob Zuma is going to be
sworn in as a member of parliament together with 400 other MP's this
He said South Africa has a
unique way of electing its leader.
"The way it works in this
country is that all the MP's are going to be sworn in, including the ANC
president Jacob Zuma. So from there, we move to the afternoon where the ANC
president Jacob Zuma is expected to be elected by parliament as the president
of the country. Then he becomes the president-elect. And he will only be sworn
in as president on Saturday the 9th of May," he said.
Xundu said supporters of the
ANC leader are expressing optimism about Zuma's election as president.
"People are excited, and
today is a big day," he said.
Xundu said Zuma's incoming
government has a Herculean challenge after the recent worldwide financial
"There is a great deal of
expectation on this administration. As you know, South Africa is just like any
other country in the world is in the global economic meltdown, and this is
affecting our people dearly. There are those expectations from ordinary South
Africans that things are going to start getting better, and it is a great
burden on this Zuma administration," he noted.
Xundu said South Africans
want the incoming administration to help alleviate their suffering.
"People are looking at
today's proceedings with a sense of hope that things are going to start turning
for the better and that Mr. Zuma and his administration are going to focus on
those issues that are of necessity for the poor," Xundu said.
He said the incoming
president has an enviable talent for speaking the language of the average South
"Zuma has something that
other people do not have or the former president does not have. And this is an
ability to connect with the ordinary people. Also, he is viewed as a
reconciler, having facilitated the peace talks between the ANC and the IFP
(Inkatha Freedom Party) during the early 1990s," he said.
Xundu said South Africans
spoke loudly when they gave the ANC a resounding victory in the April 22
elections, despite various accusations leveled against Zuma.
"There is criticism about
what he has done in the past. And for those things, it would seem that a
majority of South African have listened to his apology for having, for example,
sexual intercourse without a condom and those kinds of things, but then again,
he was acquitted. Mr. Zuma, yes he is
not a saint. South Africans accept that, and that is why they are willing to
give him a chance to lead this country, because in him, they see someone who is
like them," Xundu said.
Zuma maintains that
he would not tamper with existing fiscal policy after foreign investors express
fear that internal political pressure would force him to pursue left-leaning
was sacked as deputy head of state in 2005 after his financial adviser was
handed a 15-year prison sentence for paying him bribes. The President of the
African National Congress has been in and out of courtrooms on charges of
corruption and money-laundering over the past few years. His supporters say the
graft charges were politically motivated to prevent him from becoming
president, a claim the opposition dismisses.
The accusations against Zuma relate
to a multibillion-pound arms deal in the late 1990s and a relationship with his
financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who had already been convicted, imprisoned,
and released on parole for soliciting bribes.
As Zuma and former South African
President Thabo Mbeki struggled for power within the ANC, the charges were
first laid and then dropped on a technicality, and then re-instated two days
after Mbeki was voted out of the party leadership at the Polokwane conference
With Mbeki ousted from the
presidency last year, and Zuma's allies now in the ascendancy, the national
director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe made an announcement at the
National Prosecuting Authority's headquarters in Pretoria.
He revealed transcripts of telephone
calls involving Leonard McCarthy, then head of the department of special
operations known as the Scorpions, and close Mbeki ally, Bulelani Ngcuka, a
former director of public prosecutions. The expletive-littered calls showed
discussions between the two had taken place about when to recommence charges
Some South Africans believe the dropping
of charges gave Zuma a big boost ahead of the last month's election and ended a
legal battle that could have raised doubts over his ability to govern. But some
political analysts and the opposition say suspicion will continue to dog Zuma
because the case was never settled in court.