Pretoria - The hall at the presidential guest house had the atmosphere of a school prize-giving, but instead of overachieving pupils, there was line after line of soon-to-be-ministers.
On Monday, President Jacob Zuma read out the names of his newly appointed cabinet before Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng swore them into office.
As names were read out, the full names of familiar faces drew giggles.
Justice Mogoeng said: “I must admit that when I saw this on the list, I hoped I wouldn’t have to pronounce (it).” Then he read out Public Service and Administration Minister Ohm Collins Chabane’s name with a very loud, chant-like “Ommm” in the beginning.
Sports Minister Fikile April Mbalula’s middle name also got a laugh, but the biggest excitement came when Zuma read out the full names of Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi – Thembelani Waltermade Nxesi.
Even Zuma couldn’t keep a small smile off his face.
Ministers promised to be faithful to South Africa, uphold the constitution and not reveal any state secrets, either directly or indirectly.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe was first to be sworn in, followed by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who wore a cerise dress.
“They should have told us to bring our reading glasses, they didn’t,” quipped Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor before reading her oath off a piece of paper that was provided to her.
After ministers took their oath of affirmation, they signed a piece of paper before shaking the hands of Zuma and his new deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, who were seated on the stage.
In their excitement to dash up to the stage and greet the president, some forgot about signing, including Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. This drew some laughter.
A total of 37 deputy ministers were also sworn in.
Among them was former police chief Bheki Cele, who was fired by Zuma in 2012. He is the new deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane started a trend when she said “Modimo Nthushe”, which means “So help me God” in Sepedi, when taking her oath. Other ministers responded by taking their oaths in their mother tongues.