9 May 2009
South Africa’s fourth democratically elected President has called on South Africans to unite and move forward decisively together in a time of renewal for the country.
Speaking after being inaugurated as President at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday, Zuma held a hand out to all South Africans, saying: “Let us build a nation that remains forever mindful of its history, … of the many who put down their lives so we can be here today.
“A nation filled with the laughter and joy of children. A nation filled with a hope born of the knowledge that, if we work together, we will achieve our dreams.”
In a moving speech, the new President said this was “a moment of renewal”, an opportunity to rediscover “that which binds South Africans together as a nation”.
As if in agreement, the skies over Pretoria cleared as Zuma took the President’s oath, after heavy rains had pounded the capital earlier in the morning.
In the presence of 29 heads of state, thousands of people gathered at the Union Buildings amphitheatre and millions more watching on television, Zuma swore to be faithful to South Africa, to obey its laws, to observe its Constitution, to promote the country, and to oppose all that harmed it.
This he swore to do with all his strength and talent, while being true to his conscience and doing justice to all.
With streams of smoke the colours of the South African flag still trailing in the sky following a fly-past by six South African Air Force jets, Zuma said he took up the highest office in the country conscious of the responsibilities that the people of the country had entrusted him with.
‘No place for complacency, cynicism, or excuses’
“I commit myself to the service of our nation with dedication, commitment, discipline, integrity, hard work and passion,” the President said, adding: “There is a lot to be done.
“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.”
Despite vastly different experiences, divergent interests and varying viewpoints, South Africans, he said, shared a common desire for a better life.
“We share a common conviction that never shall we return to a time of division and strife. From this common purpose we must forge a partnership for reconstruction, development and progress.”
Everything the government did, Zuma said, had to contribute directly and meaningfully to improving people’s lives.
To achieve this, government and civil society had to hold themselves to the highest standards of service, probity and integrity.
Zuma urged South Africans to help the government build a society that prizes excellence and rewards effort while shunning laziness and incompetence, a society “that draws on the capabilities, energy and promise of all its people.”