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 stamp out 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 airforce 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.
“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”.
A former anti-apartheid activist and successful businessman, Ramaphosa 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.