President Cyril Ramaphosa promised South Africans a presidency of “action” as he delivered his inauguration speech in Pretoria on Saturday.
Addressing thousands of ordinary citizens and dignitaries, Ramaphosa said South Africans wanted “action and not just words”.
“And there will be action,” he said.
He said it was through “our actions now” that the country’s destiny would be determined.
“It is through our actions now that we will give form to the society for which so many have fought and sacrificed and for which all of us yearn.
“All South Africans yearn for a society defined by equality, by solidarity, by a shared humanity. They yearn for a society in which our worth is determined by how we value others,” said Ramaphosa.
He said South Africa could no longer accept the grave disparities between the rich and poor, adding that it threatened the country’s future.
“It is our shared will – and our shared responsibility – to build a society that knows neither privilege nor disadvantage. It is a society where those who have much are willing to share with those who have little,” he said.
He said in such a society, every person, regardless of race or sex or circumstance, may experience the fundamental necessities of a decent, dignified life.
Ramaphosa said the road ahead would be difficult and courage, wisdom and perseverance were required.
“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunity, for productive lands and viable communities, for knowledge, for innovation, and for services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable,” added Ramaphosa.
He said the people of South Africa voted for leaders who would safeguard their rights – and in turn, the elected representatives had accepted the people’s vote by saying “Thuma Thina (send us)”.
Ramaphosa further acknowledged the democratic government’s failures, saying many South Africans were still going to bed hungry while others succumbed to treatable diseases.
“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.
“The challenges that we face are real, but they are not insurmountable. They can be solved. And we are going to solve them,” said Ramaphosa.