Johannesburg: Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the African National Congress, was sworn in for a five-year term as South Africa's president on Saturday after being elected unopposed by Parliament following the sixth general elections this month.
Ramaphosa, 66, swore allegiance to the Constitution in the presence of thousands of dignitaries and citizens at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the capital, Pretoria - after being voted unopposed in a process overseen by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng as the country's leader in the National Assembly this week.
Several heads of state, former heads of state and heads of the international and regional organisation attended the swearing-in ceremony. It is the first time that a President's inauguration was open to the public and not just invited guests.
The ANC, facing factionalism and public outcries about inaction against senior officials accused of corruption, won the May 8 general election but its share of the vote fell. The ANC secured 57.5 per cent of the parliamentary vote, while the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), also saw its vote share fall.
The ANC's seats in the 400-member parliament fell to 230 from 249. The main opposition DA also saw its number of seats fall to 84 from 89, while the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters gained 19 seats to 44. The South Africa Constitution requires voters to choose a party, which then selects members to go to the National Assembly, where they choose the President.
It was the sixth general elections since anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was elected the first democratic president of the country. Ramaphosa first took office last year after former president Jacob Zuma resigned amid corruption scandals.
After taking the oath of office, Ramaphosa said, "Today, we reaffirm our determination to work with our sisters and brothers across the continent to realise the African Union's vision of Agenda 2063. To build the Africa that we all Africans want."
He called for an efficient, capable and ethical state, a state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.
He called for building a "truly non-racial society, one that belongs to all South Africans, and in which all South Africans belong." "Africa is poised once again to rise, to assume its place among the free and equal nations of the world. We must use that innovative talent that originated in Africa to embrace and use the fourth Industrial Revolution to develop Africa and create jobs for the youth and empower the women of our continent," he said.
Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader, played an instrumental role in negotiations which led to a transition of power from the white minority apartheid government that ruled the country for decades. He was a successful businessman before re-entering the political arena.
Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new Cabinet on Sunday, with great expectations that it will not include a number of long-serving ministers in the previous Cabinet who are facing serious allegations of corruption.
Two of those ministers -- Nomvula Mokonyane and Malusi Gigaba -- decided to withdraw from being named as Members of Parliament by the African National Congress (ANC) shortly before all members were sworn in before voting for the President.
Ahead of the election, Ramaphosa apologised to South Africans for the political turmoil. He also vowed to continue the fight against graft that has hurt the country's economy.