Johannesburg - “The challenges that we face are real but they are not insurmountable.”
This was the message from President Cyril Ramaphosa to the nation during his presidential inauguration.
Among those attending his swearing-in were former president Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and his wife Gugu Mtshali, various African presidents including Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Namibian president Dr Hage Geingob.
Former president Jacob Zuma was noticeably absent from the event after he told his supporters this week that he would not attend as he was busy trying to stay out of jail.
The inauguration, which coincided with Africa Day, caused people to come out in their numbers to witness Ramaphosa being sworn in as the fourth president since democracy by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The over 50000 capacity stadium was packed, with many people wearing colourful traditional attire as an SANDF battalion paraded for the first time during the ceremony.
The battalion consisted of national ceremonial guards and members of the army, air force and military.
A group from the Democratic Republic of Congo made a grand entrance, singing, hoisting flags and tree branches.
The crowd was a mix of those clad in the colours of the South African flag and those draped in ANC regalia, but everyone was waving the South African flag.
There was a brief moment of shock and silence when one of the parachutists missed the ground and hit a pole. He was later taken away on a stretcher by military paramedics.
Addressing the crowds, Ramaphosa spoke against corruption, high unemployment and other social ills.
He said despite strides made, many challenges remained.
“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. Too many of our people do not work, especially the youth,” he said.
Ramaphosa also spoke about the looting of institutions.
“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,” he said.
The president noted that South Africans wanted action and not just words and promises.
“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.”
Ramaphosa pledged to serve and work side by side with fellow South Africans in building the country.
He emphasised his slogan “Thuma Mina” to the tune of the late Hugh Masekela’s song Thuma Mina.