Cape Town – After Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president on Wednesday night, Cyril Ramaphosa automatically became acting president of the republic.

According to Section 90 of the Constitution, when there is a vacancy in the office of president, which there is after Zuma’s resignation, the first person in line to act as president is the deputy president.

“An acting president has the responsibilities, powers and functions of the president,” reads the Constitution.

“Before assuming the responsibilities, powers and functions of the president, the acting president must swear or affirm faithfulness to the republic and obedience to the Constitution.”

This basically means he cannot perform presidential duties, such as signing legislation into law, making appointments or deploying the military (such as when IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi acted as president) before taking the oath, or being sworn in.

When there is an acting president, a new president must be elected by the National Assembly.

The ANC on Wednesday indicated that they would like the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered by a president and not an acting president, so it is expected that the National Assembly will have an election before Friday evening.