/ 9 May 2009

Zuma calls for time of renewal

Pretoria Jacob Zuma was sworn in before a crowd of thousands as South African president on Saturday after a remarkable political comeback.

Zuma did not sing or dance his trademark Umshini wami when he addressed the crowd on the south lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, just after formal proceedings of his inauguration were concluded.

Addressing the crowd in isiZulu, Zuma thanked them for their support.

‘I’m just your leader, but you are the hope and the future of this country.”

Zuma promised to visit all nine provinces to give ordinary South Africans the opportunity to engage with him.

He introduced his first wife Sizakele, known as MaKhumalo, to the crowd as the First Lady. Zuma said his other two wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli, also known as MaNtuli, and Thobeka Mabhija, could not be at the ceremony because they were representing him at other functions, but promised they would be introduced to South Africans soon.

Zuma also spoke of renewal and participatory democracy in a speech free of any of the tensions that surrounded him on his journey to the country’s top job.

He thanked former presidents Nelson Mandela, Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, as well as FW de Klerk, and committed himself to working with “dedication, discipline, integrity, hard work and passion”.

He said there was a lot to be done to make sure the dreams of the country’s people were fulfilled. “There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses. Fellow South Africans, this is indeed a time of renewal.”

He said the government was committed to eradicating disease, hunger, a lack of shelter and sanitation, and until that was remedied, “we dare
not rest, we dare not falter”.

He acknowledged the world’s difficult financial conditions.

“Jobs are being lost in every economy across the world. We will not be spared the negative impact, and are beginning to feel the pinch. However, the foundations of our economy are strong and we will need to continue to build on them. This will require more work than ever before.”

The nation’s unity was a priority and there was a place for everyone, black or white, in a partnership for reconstruction.

“It is a partnership founded on principles of mutual respect and the unfettered expression of different views. We do not seek conformity.”

He said the government sought vibrant debate and participatory democracy.

Media freedom had to be defended and the institutions of state strengthened.

He singled out the African continent for its contribution to South Africa’s freedom and said the country would promote cooperation with other countries through events like next year’s Soccer World Cup.

“Fellow South Africans, let us move forward decisively,” he said, putting behind him years of turmoil over whether he was the right man for the top job.

“Let us build a nation that remains forever mindful of its history, of those who have sacrificed so much, and the many who put down their lives so we can be here today.”

Zuma’s address
“Your majesties, your royal highnesses, your excellencies heads of state and government and leaders and members of delegations,

Chairpersons of the African Union and the African Commission, esteemed members of the Order of Mapungubwe, our icon the Honourable Nelson Mandela, and the Hononourable Thabo Mbeki, your excellencies, ambassadors and high commissioners, speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, Chief Justice, Pius Langa, members of the diplomatic corps, Mama Albertina Sisulu and all veterans of our struggle, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen…

On this day, a decade and a half ago, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was formally elected as the first president of a democratic South Africa.

At that moment a new nation was born, a nation founded on the fundamental principles of human dignity and equal rights for all.

A nation founded on the promise that ‘never, never and never again’ would this land experience the oppression of one by another.

Today, a decade and a half later, we gather here to reaffirm the promise of that great day.

We gather here determined to renew that most solemn undertaking, to build a society in which all people are freed from the shackles of discrimination, exploitation, want and disease.

We gather here determined that the struggles and sacrifices of our people over many decades shall not be in vain.

Instead, they shall inspire us to complete the task for which so much blood was shed, and so much hardship endured. This is a moment of renewal.

When Madiba took the oath of office on the 10th of May 1994, it was one of the greatest historic moments of our country, Africa and the African diaspora.

Madiba healed our wounds and established the rainbow nation very firmly. He set us on the path of nation building and prosperity and made us a respected member of the world community of nations. He taught us that all South Africans have equal claim to this country, and that there can be no lasting peace unless all of us, black and white, learned to live together in harmony and peace.

He made reconciliation the central theme of his term of office. We will not deviate from that nation-building task. Thank you Madiba, for showing us the way.

I would also like to acknowledge the former second deputy president of the democratic republic, the Honourable FW de Klerk, who worked with Madiba in the resolution of the apartheid conflict, and participated in shaping a new South Africa.

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, in June 1999, former President Mbeki came to this very podium to take the oath of office, as the second president of the republic. He took the country forward as a true statesman.

He made a remarkable contribution towards strengthening our democracy, and laid a firm foundation for economic growth and development.

He made our country an integral part of the continent and worked tirelessly for an African rebirth. Through his leadership, South Africa’s stature grew in the continent and globally.

In his last address to the nation as head of state in September last year, he demonstrated his patriotism, and put the interests of the country above his personal interests.

Thank you Zizi for demonstrating a character that the ANC had always embodied since 1912.

Your excellencies, ladies and gentleman, the nation is equally indebted to my friend, comrade and brother, President Kgalema Motlanthe.

He came into office during a period of great anxiety, and brought about calm, stability and certainty. He has led us in a very capable manner and the transition has become remarkably smooth and well managed.

On behalf of the nation, let me express our sincerest gratitude to President Motlanthe for patriotic service to the nation.

Motlanthe! Bakone! Mmadiboka, seboka, dikgomo lebatho!

Today, as I take this solemn oath of office as the fourth president of the republic of South Africa, I do so deeply conscious of the responsibilities that you, the people of our country are entrusting in me.

I commit myself to the service of our nation with dedication, commitment, discipline, integrity, hard work and passion.

There is a lot to be done. More than 11,6-million South Africans voted for the ANC, based on the programme put before them.

We are now called upon to implement our Manifesto. The dreams and hopes of all the people of our country must be fulfilled. There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses.

Everything we do must contribute in a direct and meaningful way to the improvement of the lives of our people.”