Ramaphosa sworn in as president of South Africa

Saturday May 25 2019

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa (right) takes the oath of office at his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | SIPHIWE SIBEKO | AFP
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Former South African President Kgalema
Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe (L) gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
King Letsie III of Lesotho (L) gestures while
King Letsie III of Lesotho (L) gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, with his spouse for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly acknowledges the crowd while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe reacts while
Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe reacts while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Namibian President Hage Geingob reacts while
Namibian President Hage Geingob reacts while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe
Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Angola's President Joao Manuel Goncalves
Angola's President Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco reacts while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi acknowledges the crowd while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019.PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro
Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde gestures
Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Senegal's President Macky Sall gestures while
Senegal's President Macky Sall gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame reacts while
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame reacts while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit
President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit reacts while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | MICHELE SPATARI | AFP
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Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday took the oath of office as president of South Africa at a colourful ceremony, vowing "a new era" amid expectations he will revive the economy and fight corruption.

Foreign heads of state from more than 40 countries were among 36,000 people who witnessed the event replete with pomp, military honours and an air force flyover at a rugby stadium in Pretoria.

The 66-year-old leader was unanimously elected by parliament to a five-year term after his African National Congress (ANC) won legislative elections on May 8, taking 230 of the 400 seats.

The ANC garnered 57.5 percent of the vote, its weakest result since apartheid was overturned 25 years ago.

Ramaphosa is a trade unionist who played a prominent part in the struggle to end white-minority rule before becoming a successful businessman.

Task ahead

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He faces a herculean task to tackle the country's many problems - from a sickly economy in which more than a quarter of the workforce is jobless, to entrenched crime and corruption and land ownership that remains overwhelmingly in the hands of whites.

Many solutions will require him to inch his way along a high wire, balancing leftwing calls for radical change with investors' demands for caution.

"A new era has dawned in our country. A brighter day is rising upon South Africa," Ramaphosa said in his inaugural address.

"This is a defining moment for a young nation like ours. It is a time for us to make the future that we yearn for.

"I pledge here today that I will serve you ...to build the South Africa that we all want and deserve.

"Let us declare that when we gather to celebrate the 50th year of our freedom there shall no longer be any person in this land who is unable to meet their basic needs".

Ramaphosa's first test will be choosing a cabinet—a task beset by rival factions within the ANC.

He is expected to name his new team within days, but the choice of vice president hangs in the balance after deputy David Mabuza said Wednesday he would defer taking his seat in parliament.

An ANC integrity commission report has alleged that Mabuza—the party's No 2 —"prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute".

Ramaphosa first took power last year when the ANC forced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years in office, and vowed to root out corruption.

Breaking tradition

Breaking with tradition Ramaphosa's swearing-in ceremony was moved from the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings—the seat of government, where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black president in 1994.

All other leaders after Mandela have taken their oaths at the Union Buildings, whose grounds can accommodate only up to 4,500 people.

But this year the event was moved to the 52,000-seater Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium to allow more people to attend.

All of the country's former presidents were at the ceremony except for Zuma, who on Friday attended a court hearing on corruption charges in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg.

He told supporters afterwards he was too busy to go to Pretoria for Rhamaphosa's inauguration.

"There is no time. I am fighting to stay out of jail," Zuma said.

One of his several wives was to attend the ceremony however.

More than 2,500 police were deployed for security, while a battalion of soldiers performed ceremonial parades inside the stadium. The air force put a spectacular aerobatics display overhead.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has castigated the government for what it called a "wasteful" expenditure of 120 million rand ($8.3 million) for the ceremony.

"It is no secret that the South African economy is in dire straits," senior DA lawmaker John Steenhuisen said.

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