It drew boos from the National Assembly, but President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday began his first state-of-the-nation address by mentioning and thanking his predecessor Jacob Zuma who was forced out of office by the ruling party this week.
“I do wish to thank president Jacob Zuma for the manner in which he approached this very difficult and sensitive process,” Ramaphosa said, referring to a week-long political crisis that ended with Zuma resigning on national television on Wednesday night.
Ramaphosa also thanked Zuma for his service to the country and said progress was made during his years in office, nodding insistently as his audience grumbled disagreement.
Zuma did not attend the opening of Parliament but Ramaphosa said he spoke to him on Thursday.
“We exchanged wonderful pleasantries and he wished us well in the holding of this SONA.”
By contrast, former president Thabo Mbeki drew loud applause, as Ramaphosa welcomed him to the public gallery.
Ramaphosa said he wanted to thank the country for its “patience and forbearance” with the uncertainty, including the postponement of the opening of Parliament for eight days, that accompanied the political transition.
– African News Agency (ANA