South African parliament elects Zuma as head of state

Category: International
Published on Wednesday, 06 May 2009 23:51
Written by The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com
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Jacob Zuma: ANC wins but falls short of two thirds Photo: AP

(NSV) - South Africa’s President-elect Jacob Zuma promised ‘faster change’ Wednesday for South Africans as he was named head of state by the nation’s parliament.

"It is my fervent hope that our public servants heard our campaign message and understand that it shall not be business as usual," he told parliament.

"We expect hard work and utmost dedication," he said in his speech to parliament.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) won last month’s election with 65.9 per cent of the vote.

Some of the issues that will dog the Zuma administration, analysts agree, include reduction of poverty amongst blacks, the slow pace of land reform (whites owned 87 percent of agricultural land, while blacks owned only 13 percent [World Bank]) and the high crime rates.

‘We would be forced to arrest him’

However, the immediate challenge facing Zuma is a diplomatic dilemma it’s entangled in after he decided to extend an invitation to the Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who’s indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As a signatory to the Rome Statue, South Africa’s obligated to arrest President Bashir if he showed up on Saturday at the inauguration.

A source in the presidency in South Africa was quoted by Business Day as saying although Bashir is invited it would not be in his best interest to attend.

"If he does, that will create a situation, and we would be forced to arrest him, and we don't want that," the source said.

Zuma will be the third black African president of South Africa, after Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.