‘I stand before you as a humble servant, and we have heard you’: President Cyril Ramaphosa sworn in

President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: GCIS

Published Jun 19, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa took the oath of office at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday, where he made it clear that he accepts and respects the results of the May 29 elections.

In the May 29 general elections, the African National Congress (ANC) received its worst election result since apartheid ended 30 years ago in South Africa. The party garnered 40% of the vote, losing its absolute majority in Parliament.

However, Ramaphosa has officially begun his second term at the Union in Pretoria after his party formulated a government of national unity (GNU) incorporating its decades-old rival, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and other smaller parties.

Ramaphosa emphasised that the people of South Africa have spoken, and their will shall be done without any doubt or question.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in to begin a second term. File Picture: Henk Kruger / Independent Newspapers

“The voters of South Africa did not give any single party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realise their aspirations,” he said.

“They have expressed their appreciation of the progress in many areas of their lives over the past 30 years of democracy. They have also been unequivocal in expressing their disappointment and disapproval of our performance in some of the areas in which we have failed them.”

He said the voters want a South Africa in which all may find shelter in the country’s democratic Constitution and find protection in the courts.

He added that the people of South Africa have demanded an end to the theft of public funds and the capture of the State.

“Above all, the people of South Africa have stressed that they are impatient with political bickering and the endless blame game among politicians and political parties. They want us to put their needs and aspirations first and they want us to work together for the sake of our country,” he said.

“Today I stand before you as your humble servant to say we have heard you. As the president of the Republic, I will work with everyone to reach out and work with every political party and sector that is willing to contribute to finding solutions to the challenges our country faces as we transition to a new decade of freedom.”

Thirty years have passed since South Africa turned its back on racial tyranny and embraced an open and democratic society.

Despite the progress and milestones achieved, Ramaphosa said South African society remains deeply unequal and highly polarised.

“There are toxic cleavages and an incipient social fragmentation that can easily turn into instability. The lines drawn by our history, between black and white, between man and woman, between suburbs and townships, between urban and rural, between the wealthy and the poor, remain etched in our landscape,” he said.

“In places, these lines may have faded, but they have not disappeared. We are citizens of one country and yet we occupy different worlds, separated by high walls and great distances.”

He said South Africans are divided between those who have jobs and those who do not work; between those who have the means to build and enjoy a comfortable life and those who do not.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: GCIS

Ramaphosa said the formation of a government of national unity is a moment of profound significance, describing it as the beginning of a new era.

“This is a new tide that heralds progress, transformation and deep, fundamental change. We look to this rising tide with optimism and hope. We must reject every attempt to divide or distract us, to sow doubt or cynicism, or to turn us against one another,” he said.

“Those who seek to stand in our way, those who seek to inflame tensions, will not succeed, because South Africans are resolute. Those who seek to undermine our institutions will fail, because democracy lives in the hearts of our people and will never be dislodged.”

Several heads of State from different parts of the world were at the Union Buildings as Ramaphosa began his new term on Wednesday.