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South Africa celebrates 6th democratically elected President


Cyril Ramaphosa has officially become South Africa’s sixth democratically elected President after taking the oath of office at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

“I, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, swear that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and will obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all law of the Republic. And I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that may harm it; protect and promote the rights of all South Africans,” he said.

President Ramaphosa, 66, also vowed to discharge all his duties with all his strength and talent to the best of his abilities and be true to the dictates of his conscience, as he took the oath administered by Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

The crowd, gathered at the stadium, errupted in loud cheer as the President said: “So help me God!”

He recited the oath on stage looking Presidential in his dark suit and wine-coloured tie, accompanied by his wife Tshepo Motsepe, before signing the swearing-in certificate.

Representatives from the continental regional economic blocks, former liberation movements, fraternal countries, the African Union, United Nations, members of the diplomatic corps and eminent persons, as well as over 30 000 members of the public, witnessed the inauguration.

Former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and FW de Klerk were seated in the VIP area on stage, and the Heads of State from the DRC, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Uganda, Lesotho and Eswatini graced the ceremony which coincides with the continental Africa Day celebrations.

Before taking the oath, President Ramaphosa was honoured by a mighty military salute from the South African National Defence Force personnel which included all arms of the force who ushered the President to the sound of the National Anthem, a 21-gun salute and Air Force display.

After the oath, the stadium erupted in loud cheer and praise.

Ramaphosa was elected President by Parliament after the African National Congress (ANC) won the general election earlier this month.

The inauguration takes place at a time when the country celebrates 25 Years of Freedom.

The newly inaugurated President will now deliver a speech at this momentous occasion which marks the beginning of the sixth administration.  In the address, he will give the country and the international community a snapshot of his vision and intentions during his term of office.

One of the key focus of this address will be on how the together- as a country- can we build on the achievements and work even harder to tackle poverty, inequality and unemployment.

President Ramaphosa has already had an illustrious career which has seen him working in the private sector, the labour movement and he was among the writers of South Africa’s new democratic Constitution. 

Born on 17 November 1952 in Soweto, President Ramaphosa played an important role in the liberation struggle for a democratic South Africa.

The President was detained in 1974 for organising pro-Frelimo rallies that were held to celebrate the independence of Mozambique.

Two years later, after the Soweto student uprising he was detained again.  

He became the first general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982.

In 1991, he was elected ANC Secretary General and subsequently became head of the ANC team that negotiated the transition to democracy.

Following the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, he was elected chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly, which wrote South Africa’s new democratic constitution. 

He moved into the private sector in 1996, and in 2001 founded Shanduka Group, a diversified investment holding company.

He resigned from Shanduka in 2012 following his appointment as Deputy President of South Africa.

President Ramaphosa holds a law degree from the University of South Africa. He has received several honorary doctorates from local and international universities.