'This is a period of radical transformation'

Jacob Zuma has been sworn as president of the Republic of South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma with his wife Sizakele Khumalo at the presidential inauguration at the Union Buildings. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma says today's presidential inauguration marks the end of the first phase of transition and the beginning of a period of radical economic transformation.

Zuma was earlier sworn in as president of the Republic of South Africa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the inauguration ceremony before heads of state, dignitaries and royalty.

The president swore to protect the Republic of South Africa and serve the nation.

He also told thousands of people he was humbled to have received a mandate from millions of South Africans.

"It is through your hard work that we are able to count so many achievements in only 20 years of freedom."

Zuma took the opportunity to pay homage to former president Nelson Mandela and reflect on 20 years of democracy.

"This year we mark 20 years of freedom and 20 years since president Nelson Mandela took the oath of office at this very amphitheatre. We began building a new society based on fundamental human rights, equality, unity, diversity and the promotion of the dignity of all."

He said South Africa continued to dismantle the legacy of apartheid.

"The legacy of apathetic colonialism will require more intense efforts from all South Africans. We have successfully completed the first phase of our transformation. Today marks the beginning of the second phase of our transition from apathy to a national democratic society."

Zuma focused on the economy, saying there would be changes to laws around employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment to speed up economic transformation.

He also said the state would intervene more in the economy to try and unlock blockages.

Zuma said his government would follow the National Development Plan, but government leaders have promised radical economic change before.

He may provide more details when he opens Parliament next month.

The president was also given a 21-gun salute and there was a flyby of helicopters and planes, which included the Gripen fighter jet.

Aircraft organised themselves into a '20' formation to celebrate two decades of democracy in South Africa.


Shortly before taking the oath of office, Zuma was warmly welcomed at the Union Buildings by invited guests and hundreds of people gathered on the south lawns.

More than 40 heads of state and government, VIPs, celebrities and royalty attended the inauguration as well as thousands of ordinary South Africans.

Guests included about 47 representatives of foreign countries, including more than 20 presidents and former presidents.

There was mixed reaction to the arrival of leaders at the venue with some people slipping in unnoticed while others received thunderous applause.

Special guests were ushered into the area from as early as 10am and a round of applause was given to people such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.

Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

One of president Zuma's wives arrives at the Union Buildings. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: GCIS.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS.

TV presenter Minnie Dlamini. Picture: GCIS.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane. Picture: GCIS.

Musicians Zakes Batwini and Donald. Picture: GCIS.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was greeted by calls and shouts of "Bring our girls back!" in reference to the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe received one of the loudest cheers as he walked to his front-row seat flanked by his wife Grace.

But Swaziland's King Mswati III was met with silence in the amphitheatre.

Zuma himself was cheered on from the moment his convoy first appeared on the big television screens and again as he arrived here with one of his four wives be inaugurated.

The president has now left to have lunch with the other heads of state inside the Union Building precinct.

Meanwhile, hundreds of ordinary South Africans gathered on the south lawns of the Union Buildings to watch proceedings, with many dancing and singing for the president.