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Ramaphosa pledges to be a President for all South Africans in inaugural speech, as he warns against dissent

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

19th June 2024

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

     

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“The formation of a government of national unity (GNU) is a moment of profound significance. It is the beginning of a new era.”

This was the statement made by Cyril Ramaphosa in his inaugural speech, at the Union Buildings, where he pledged himself to be a President for all South Africans and to work with everybody committed to “a better life for all”.

The inauguration, which was overseen by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, and attended by various heads of State as well as former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, marks Ramaphosa’s second stint as South Africa’s leader, but this time, not only backed by his political party, the African National Congress (ANC), but also by other parties that make up the GNU.

After losing its outright majority in the May 29 national and provincial elections the ANC was forced to forge alliances with other parties to form a national government.

The GNU, so far, has five signatories – the ANC, Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance and the GOOD party – representing more than two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly.

In his speech on Wednesday, Ramaphosa compared the GNU to the one that was formed 30 years ago, following the end of Apartheid.

“In their multitude, in voices that are many and diverse, the people of South Africa have voted and made known their wishes, their concerns and their expectations. We accept and respect the results of the elections and we once again say the people have spoken. Their will shall be done without any doubt or question. 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 acknowledged.

The President conceded that there were many areas in basic service delivery where the previous government fell short – electricity, jobs, land, housing, food, healthcare, safety, corruption – and assured South Africans that he would work with any political party and sector willing to help tackle the challenges facing the country.

“…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. Today I stand before you as your humble servant to say we have heard you. Today, I make a solemn commitment to be a President for all South Africans; to defend our Constitution and protect our democracy; to work with all those who share the dream of a better life for all; to care for the poor and the vulnerable, and to support all those who are in need; and to make our country stronger, more resilient, more equal and united,” Ramaphosa pledged.

He noted the strides that had been made since the end of Apartheid to advance the country and the lives of its citizens, but also recognised that inequality and social fragmentation was rife.

Ramaphosa admitted that this could easily turn into instability but said extraordinary courage and leadership and leaders of the country working together could help move the country forward.

He mentioned the Statement of Intent, signed by parties of the GNU which commited to rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and requested that political parties, civil society, labour and business attend a national dialogue to deliberate on the issues facing the country.

While Ramaphosa’s speech was full of calls for cooperation, unity and collaboration he also sought to dissuade any attempts that could be made to encourage discord or dissent.

“We must reject every attempt to divide or distract us, to sow doubt or cynicism, or to turn us against one another. 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. Nothing will distract us from serving the people and advancing their interests. Now is the time to move forward. Together, we will do more and better. On this day, our hands are joined together. We are united. We are full of hope,” he stated.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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