Ramaphosa Begins Second Term as South African President

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for a second term as president on Wednesday in Pretoria, marking a historic moment in South Africa’s political landscape. This inauguration follows his reelection, achieved through a coalition of parties, a first in the country’s 30-year history.

Ramaphosa is now tasked with forming a new coalition government after his African National Congress (ANC) party lost its parliamentary majority in last month’s elections. His reelection as president by lawmakers on Friday was secured by an agreement with the main opposition party and a smaller third party, paving the way for a co-governance model for Africa’s most industrialized economy.

He will be navigating the first government in South Africa’s history where no single party holds a majority. At least three parties will be part of what the ANC calls a government of national unity, with the possibility of more joining.

Ramaphosa took the oath of office in a public ceremony at the Union Buildings, the seat of government, administered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Notable dignitaries attended the inauguration ceremony, including King Mswati III of Eswatini, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa, and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, all present as Ramaphosa embarks on what promises to be a challenging final term.

The ceremony featured a 21-gun salute by the presidential guard, a flyover by the South Africa Air Force, and performances by South African musicians and cultural dancers, entertaining the thousands of citizens present.

Addressing the nation, Ramaphosa emphasized that the people’s will would be respected. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations,” he said.

Ramaphosa acknowledged the people’s “unequivocal expression of disappointment and disapproval of our performance in some of the areas in which we have failed them.” He recognized the deeply unequal and polarized nature of South African society, warning of the potential for instability.

“The lines drawn by our history, between black and white, between man and woman, between suburbs and townships, between urban and rural, between the wealthy and the poor, remain etched in our landscape,” he said.

He pledged that the new government would prioritize creating new work opportunities to address the economic challenges facing the nation and focus on providing essential services like housing, healthcare, and clean water.

Despite Ramphosa’s reassuring words, the new administration faces significant challenges. The coalition government is composed of ideologically opposed parties with differing viewpoints on key issues such as land redistribution policies, solutions to the electricity crisis, and affirmative action.

Major parties like the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party have already joined the coalition, with others such as the Patriotic Alliance, the GOOD Party, and the Pan Africanist Congress expected to follow.

However, the third-largest party, led by former President Jacob Zuma, the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party have declined to participate.

The announcement of the new Cabinet’s formation remains pending.