'Yes, South Africa, Thuma Mina': Highlights from Ramaphosa’s inauguration speech

In his speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa touched on many issues that resonate with South Africans, including corruption, poverty, equality and the need for South Africa to work with other Africans.

President Cyril Ramaphosa sings the national anthem at his inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on 25 May 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Cyril Ramaphosa has given his first speech as the president of South Africa.

In his speech, Ramaphosa touched on many issues that resonate with South Africans, including corruption, poverty, equality and the need for South Africa to work with other Africans.


Ramaphosa committed South Africa to realising the African Union's vision of a united continent.

"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, to forge a free trade area that stretches from Cape Town to Cairo, bringing growth and opportunity all African countries. Today, we declare that our progress as South Africa depends on – and cannot be separated from – the onward march of our beloved continent Africa."


Ramaphosa said a lot has changed for the people of the country since that glorious morning on which Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first president of a democratic South Africa.

“As the shackles of oppression have fallen away, they have felt their horizons widen and their lives improve in myriad ways. But they have also known moments of doubt. They have felt the cold shadow of a past so cruel and iniquitous that it has at times threatened to eclipse the very achievement of their hard-won freedom.”


He acknowledged the challenged faced by the people of the country and expressed his belief that they can be solved.

“In recent times, our people have watched as some of those in whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation of power and riches. They have seen some of the very institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered.

“Let us forge a compact 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.”


Ramaphosa praised the people of South Africa for remaining hopeful in the face of the challenges faced by the country.

“Despite our differences, despite a past of conflict and division and bitterness, despite the fierce political contestation among 48 political parties in recent months, we share the same hopes and fears, the same anxieties and aspirations. South Africans want action and not just words and promises.”

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Ramaphosa expressed his desire for a society that the rich share with the poor, a society where all persons can meet their basic needs.

“It is a society where every person, regardless of race or sex or circumstance, may experience the fundamental necessities of a decent, dignified life. Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation.

"Every school child will be able to read, and every person who wants to work will have a reasonable opportunity to find employment.”


The president called fro an end to the abuse of women.

“Let us end the dominion that men claim over women, the denial of opportunity, the abuse and the violence, the neglect, and the disregard of each person’s equal rights. Let us build a truly non-racial society, one that belongs to all South Africans, and in which all South Africans belong. Let us build a society that protects and values those who are vulnerable and who for too long have been rendered marginal,” Ramaphosa said.


Ramaphosa also thanked African leaders for choosing to celebrate Africa Day among South Africans.

Africa Day, which was established by the African Union (AU) on 25 May 1963, is celebrated on the continent and internationally.

The day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU now the AU) in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, as well as the progress that Africa has made.

“On this Africa Day, on the day that our nation enters a new era of hope and renewal, we recall and celebrate that Africa is the birthplace of humanity.”

Read Ramaphosa's full inauguration speech below.

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