New South African president envisions end to poverty

President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa raises his hand to the oath during his inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday. South African lawmakers elected him as president following the ruling African National Congress party's win earlier this month in the country's general elections. Photo by Yeshiel Panchia/EPA-EFE/Pool

May 26 (UPI) — South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa called for an end to poverty in a generation at his swearing-in ceremony Saturday.

Ramaphosa, 66, called for the country to end poverty, while he was addressing some 30,000 spectators at his official swearing in ceremony Saturday in the country’s capital, Pretoria.

“A new era is dawning on our country. Better days are ahead for South Africa,” Ramaphosa proclaimed, “it is time for us to build the future to which we aspire.”

He is serving as the country’s head of state for another term after emphasizing improving the economy through job creation and the need to promote nation building.

Ramaphosa took over the presidency last year after embattled leader Jacob Zuma stepped down amid nearly 800 corruption allegations stemming from an arms deal from the 1990s and a separate issue involving misuse of public funds. The court ordered Zuma to repay $15 million in public funds he misappropriated to improve his private residence.

“I am humbled by the trust you have bestowed upon me,” Ramaphosa said. “In recent times, our people have watched as some of those whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation or power of riches.”

He added that he envisioned a country free from “resourced squandered.”

Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s richest businessmen, comes from the African National Congress party of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), an anti-apartheid revolutionary who became the country’s first black president in 1994. Ramaphosa was also chairman of the committee that prepared Mandela for release from prison in 1990. The ANC has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa.

Though the ANC has waned this year with less than 60 percent of the vote for the first time since 1994, Ramaphosa said election results were “a resounding expression of the will of the people of South Africa.”

The theme for the Ramaphosa’s inauguration was “Together Celebrating Democracy: Renewal and Growth for a Better South Africa.”

South Africans dressed in the black, green and gold colors of the country’s flag, and ANC welcomed his vision for the country amid drumming and dancing.

In coming days, a decision should be made on the country’s vice president and cabinet members.


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