Ramaphosa commits to work with those willing to find solutions to SA’s challenges

Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the 0Union Buildings as the new president of South Africa. Ramaphosa will be serving his second term as president. Picture: Phando Jikelo / Parliament of SA

Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the 0Union Buildings as the new president of South Africa. Ramaphosa will be serving his second term as president. Picture: Phando Jikelo / Parliament of SA

Published Jun 20, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to work with every political party and sector that was willing to contribute to finding solutions to the challenges facing the country.

“Today, I make a solemn commitment to be a president for all South Africans; to defend our Constitution and protect our democracy; to work with all those who share the dream of a better life for all; to care for the poor and the vulnerable, and to support all those who are in need; and to make our country stronger, more resilient, more equal and united,” Ramaphosa said.

Delivering his inaugural address at the Union Buildings, he said the inauguration was a moment of fundamental consequence in the life of the nation.

“It is a moment when we must choose to either move forward together or risk losing all we have built. In this moment we must choose to move forward,” he said, adding that the moment required extraordinary courage and leadership.

Ramaphosa noted that the voters did not give any single party the full mandate to govern the country alone but directed them to work together.

“As leaders, as political parties, we are called upon to work in partnership towards a growing economy, better jobs, safer communities and a government that works for its people.”

He also said parties across the political spectrum have resolved to establish a Government of National Unity (GNU) to pursue a common programme of fundamental and lasting change.

“The formation of a government of national unity is a moment of profound significance. It is the beginning of a new era,” he said.

Ramaphosa also said they would invite all parties, civil society, labour, business and other formations to a national dialogue on the critical challenges facing the nation.

“We will seek, as we have done at so many important moments in our history, to forge a social compact to realise the aspirations of our national development plan.”

He made the statements soon after he was sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Union Buildings.

Dignitaries and guests attending the ceremony included former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Cuban Vice-President Salvador Valdés Mesa, Namibian President Nangolo Mbumba, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Mozambican President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, King Mswati III of eSwatini, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.

Also in attendance were former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

Conspicuously absent was former president Jacob Zuma, whose party boycotted the inauguration, and EFF leader Julius Malema, who was appearing in the magistrate’s court in East London.

Both Zuma and Malema’s parties have refused to be part of a GNU that includes the DA.

Zuma’s MK Party is contesting the election results in the Electoral Court and wants a re-run of the elections.

Ramaphosa said nothing would distract the newly-formed government from serving the people and advancing their interests.

“We must reject every attempt to divide or distract us, to sow doubt or cynicism, or to turn us against one another. Those who seek to stand in our way, those who seek to inflame tensions, will not succeed, because South Africans are resolute,” he said.

“Those who seek to undermine our institutions will fail, because democracy lives in the hearts of our people and will never be dislodged.”

Addressing the crowds on the lawns afterwards, Ramaphosa said the GNU would work together to advance the interests of the people.

“Let us not be afraid of what this GNU is going to be all about. We are going to get everyone in the GNU to work and create jobs. I am going to make sure that happens,” he said.

With the inauguration over, all eyes are now on Ramaphosa to make Cabinet appointments.

His spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said he would announce the Cabinet in a matter of days after having consulted with all other parties in the GNU.

“He will proceed and kick off another round of consultations. He does not want a prolonged period of uncertainty without a Cabinet,” he said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said in an interview it was far too premature to speak about positions.

“Once the president has been inaugurated today, we will start the discussions around the composition of the Cabinet and how that would look,” Steenhuisen said.

He also said the issue was not really about positions but being in areas where they could serve and deliver on their manifesto.

“We said in our manifesto how we would rescue South Africa. These are key things that have to be done to get South Africa, to get off this high-unemployment, low-growth, high-debt trajectory on to one of hope, prosperity, opportunity, inclusiveness for more South Africans,” said Steenhuisen.

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said his party was not a stranger to a GNU and that the IFP believed in inclusivity that allowed as many political parties as possible who shared a common view and the need to work together to take the country forward.

“People must not limit contribution only by simply being members of the Cabinet. As MPs you have an important task to contribute positively,” he said.

Cape Times