Ramaphosa inaugurated as President of South Africa – this is what he promises to do

 ·19 Jun 2024

Cyril Ramaphosa was officially sworn-in as President of the Republic of South Africa’s seventh administration at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, Gauteng, on 19 June 2024.

This marks the start of the seventh administration of democratic South Africa following the general elections that were held on May 29th.

This new administration will be significantly different from previous ones, as no single party has obtained a majority to govern independently, thus relying on co-governing agreements.

The inauguration

“I swear I will be faithful to the Republic Of South Africa,” said Ramaphosa as he took his oath of office considered binding on his conscience.

Following this, the newly sworn-in President gave his inaugural address to the nation, which he labelled as “the beginning of a new chapter for South Africa,” given that the country is set for coalition governance.

Overwhelmingly, the fifth democratically elected leader’s speech was a call to parties that will – or could – form part of the Government of National Unity (GNU), to put political animosity aside and work together for the sake of South Africa.

Ramaphosa reiterated that the recent elections, in which the African National Congress’ support plummeted to 40%, indicated the people’s will. 

“Voters have not given a single party a mandate to govern alone and have shared their disapproval in some areas where we have failed them. They want us to put their needs and aspirations first and work together for the sake of the country,” said Ramaphosa.

“The people of South Africa have spoken,” said the President.

“We accept the results of the election… [the voters’] will shall be done without any doubt or any question,” he added.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo the inaugauration ceremony on 19 June 2024. Photo: GCIS

“The formation of a [GNU] is a moment of profound significance… the beginning of a new era,” said Ramaphosa.

According to Ramaphosa, the GNU parties have committed to focusing on achieving economic growth, social justice, and sustainable development.

Additionally, some of the aims of the seventh administration included in the speech are to:

  • Reduce poverty
  • Protect workers’ rights
  • Ensure government stability
  • Enhance state efficiency
  • Invest in education and healthcare
  • End the looting of public funds and state capture
  • Achieve a foreign policy that emphasises human rights and peace
  • Uphold the Constitution, and
  • Unite the nation.

Ramaphosa stressed that above all, the people and parties who do come to the table need to affirm “unwavering fidelity to the Constitution to the Republic of South Africa.”

Responding to backlash about his decision to form a GNU, Ramaphosa said that “neither discord nor decent shall cause us to cast aside that which calls us to build a united, free, just, equal and prosperous nation,” he added.

What about the Cabinet?

Before the inauguration, Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said that Ramaphosa will have consultations over the next few days before the seventh administration’s cabinet is appointed.

These consultations are expected to be rigorous, given the needed accommodation of wide-ranging parties that are forming part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Along with the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and other smaller parties supported Ramaphosa’s nomination and election as President in parliament. As a result, they are expected to be rewarded with cabinet appointments.

Freedom Front Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald told Business Day that his party has submitted documents to the ANC to form part of the GNU.

“We expect feedback from the ANC either today or tomorrow and we expect it to be positive,” said Groenewald.

Although the tenure of ministers and deputy ministers of the sixth administration concluded with the swearing-in of the seventh administration’s president, their departments will continue in their operations, guided by plans previously presented to Parliament.

In 2019, Ramaphosa took four days to announce his Cabinet, while Former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma announced theirs the day after their inaugurations. However, these administrations saw the ANC with an outright majority and thus did not need to appease coalition partners.

Read: Government of National Unity now has a supermajority in South Africa

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