24 May 2014
Humbled but determined to lead the country for another five years, President Jacob Zuma says he will need the backing of a united and cohesive nation to move South Africa forward.
Delivering his first address to the nation after being sworn in as President at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday, Zuma said the new administration would promote nation building programmes to help “rebuild the soul of our nation”.
This, he said, was because many South Africans still bore the emotional scars caused by decades of apartheid divisions and hatred.
“Therefore, the national healing and reconciliation process has to continue. We will work together to promote unity, understanding and tolerance across race and colour lines, as we build a South Africa that truly belongs to all,” he said after taking the oath of the highest office in the land.
He said South Africa was a nation that had produced generations of selfless freedom fighters, who had made untold sacrifices so that everyone could live in a country that was free of racial discrimination and oppression.
“Today we wish to acknowledge the contribution of every South African to the process of renewal, reconstruction and development of this country in the past 20 years of freedom. It is through your hard work, that we are able to count so many achievements in only 20 years of freedom.”
The President opened his inauguration speech by expressing his gratitude.
“I am greatly honoured to stand before you today, to accept the mandate bestowed upon us by millions of our people … I accept this responsibility and privilege with great humility, given the history of our country and where we come from as a nation.”
He reminded the nation that this year marked 20 years of freedom and 20 years since Nelson Mandela had taken the same oath in the same amphitheatre – since renamed after Mandela, who died in December last year.
Zuma said a lot of progress had been made in the country since democracy, although challenges remained. “We will strive to build a caring society and to be an administration that will serve our people with courtesy, ubuntu and efficiency.”
After the formal ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, Zuma proceeded to the Southern Lawns to greet those who had gathered to witness the occasion.
He thanked the more than 20 000-strong crowd for casting their votes during the general elections two weeks ago, and assured them that the government would work hard to deliver on its promises over the next five years.
“As government we are determined to do what we have promised to do. This is your government, and we urge everybody to work with us. If we are together, we are stronger to deliver on what we have promised,” he said.