The worth of being South African vice-president

Today the SA parliament voted in its interim president until the next election can install Zuma. Why this voting process - why isn’t the vice-president stepping straight in? :confused: Don’t they have a VP?

There’s a deputy president who takes over if the president is out of the country or the presidency is vacant, but Phumzale Milambo-Ngcuka, who was deputy president, resigned when Mbeki did.

The President of South Africa is elected by Parliament, not by the people. South Africans vote for a party in the national elections, and the seats in Parliament are then allocated to the parties according to the proportion of the votes they receive. Once Parliament is formed, the Members of Parliament then vote to choose the president from amongst themselves. Similarly, the President can be removed by a vote of no confidence by Parliament. If this happens, or if the President dies or resigns, then Parliament votes to select a new President. (This is almost identical to the way that the Prime Minister is chosen in the UK, Canada, Australia etc.)

The article is somewhat misleading in referring to Motlanthe as “interim president”. He is no different in status just because he was not elected just after a general election; his presidency is “interim” only because it is generally assumed that Zuma will replace him after the next elections. Zuma cannot become President immediately because he is not currently an MP; at the next elections he will presumably become an MP and thus eligible for the Presidency.

There is a post of Deputy President; her role is to be an assistant to the President, rather than a potential replacement. The Deputy President does become Acting President when the President is temporarily incapacitated or out of the country, as well as between the resignation/death/removal of a President and the election of a new one. In this case, however, the Deputy President resigned along with the president, and an Acting President was in any case not necessary because the new one was elected on the same day that the old one’s resignation became effective.