Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa has used his inauguration speech to declare that a new dawn has arrived for South Africa and has called on citizens to forge a social compact that will be free and equal and resolute.
Ramaphosa said the compact should not just be between business and labour but for society at large.
“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunity, for productive lands and viable communities, for knowledge, for innovation, and for services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable,” Ramaphosa said.
“Let us forge a compact for an efficient, capable and ethical state, a state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.”
He was addressing thousands of people during his inauguration at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday.
Ramaphosa said society should value hard work and aim to uplift young people and the role they can play in the country.
“We must be a society that values excellence, rewards effort and hard work and rejects mediocrity. We must be a society that values its young people by creating a conducive environment for them to gain skills and be productively employed to develop our country,” he said.
He also conceded that the challenges of corruption and lack of service delivery which have impacted a number of South Africans. He said the task of rebuilding will not be easy.
“In recent times, our people have watched as some of those in whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation of power and riches. They have seen some of the very institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered. The challenges that we face are real. But they are not insurmountable,” Ramaphosa said.
“They have chosen hope over hopelessness, they have opted for unity over conflict and divisions. As we give effect to their mandate, we draw comfort from the knowledge that that which unites us is far, far more powerful and enduring than that which divides us.”
Ramaphosa pledged to work and build a country that its citizens deserve.
“And I pledge here today that I will serve you, I will work with you, side by side, to build the South Africa that we all want and deserve. A new era has dawned in our country,” Ramaphosa said.
He called for peace on the African continent and increased trade among African nations in line with the vision of the African Union.
"Today, we reaffirm our determination to work with our sisters and brothers across the continent to realise the African Union’s vision of Agenda 2063. To build the Africa that we all Africans want. To forge a free trade area that stretches from Cape Town to Cairo, bringing growth and opportunity to all African countries. To silence the guns and let peace and harmony reign," Ramaphosa said.
"Today, we declare that our progress as South Africa depends on, and cannot be separated from, the onward march of our beloved continent, Africa."
Ramaphosa's inauguration coincided with Africa Day.
The president said that in the 25 years of South Africa's democratic dispensation, the country "has known both seasons of plenty and times of scarcity".
"Our people have felt the warm embrace of liberty. They have rejoiced at the affirmation of their essential and equal humanity. They have found shelter and sustenance. They have found opportunity and purpose. As the shackles of oppression have fallen away, they have felt their horizons widen and their lives improve in a myriad of ways," he said.
"But they have also known moments of doubt. They have felt the cold shadow of a past so cruel and iniquitous that it has at times threatened to eclipse the very achievement of their hard-won freedom. Despite our most earnest efforts, many South Africans still go to bed hungry, many succumb to diseases that can be treated, many live lives of intolerable deprivation," Ramaphosa said.IOL