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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2523

Jacob Zuma sworn in as Fourth President of South Africa

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma  is sworn in as South Africa's fourth President since the end of apartheid by the counties Chief Justice, Pius Langa in Pretoria on May 9, 2009. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sworn in as South Africa's fourth President since the end of apartheid by the counties Chief Justice, Pius Langa in Pretoria on May 9, 2009. Pretoria, 10 May, ( On Saturday, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma took the oath of office as the President of South Africa . He was sworn in as South Africa's fourth democratic president on Saturday at a glitzy inauguration attended by heads of state, tens of thousands of supporters, and his three wives.

Zuma was accompanied to the stage by the first of his three current wives, Sizakele Khumalo, with nearly 30 visiting leaders among the 5,000 invited guests at the Union Buildings, the hilltop complex that is the seat of South Africa's government in Pretoria.

Thousands of supporters gathered in the wintry rain from before dawn to watch the proceedings set up with televisions showing the proceedings.

The 67-year-old Zuma was elected president by parliament, after the ANC swept to victory in general elections two weeks ago, despite frustrations at poor public services after 15 years as the ruling party.

Led by Chief Justice Pius Langa, he declared, "I, Jacob Zuma, solemnly swear that I will observe and maintain the Constitution of the Republic and I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always promote all that will advance the public, and oppose all that may harm it."

He vowed to "protect and promote the rights of all South Africans," saying he would let "truth be the dictate of my conscience."

With Mandela and Mbeki on hand for his swearing-in Saturday, Zuma promised to keep South Africa on the path of reconciliation laid by South Africa's first black president.

"I will devote myself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people. So help me God," he said amid loud applause.

"He made reconciliation the central theme of his term of office. We will not deviate from that nation building task. Thank you Mandiba for showing us the way," Zuma said, affectionately referring to Mandela by his clan name.

'Safeguard independence'

"We must forge a partnership for reconstruction, development and progress. In this partnership there is a place for all South Africans, black and white," he said.

Zuma also made a defence of democracy, political freedoms and free speech as he stood before nearly 30 visiting leaders, including Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and King Mswati III of Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarch.

Major western countries sent lower-ranking officials, including Britain's junior foreign minister Mark Malloch Brown, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and French secretary of state for human rights Rama Yade.

"We must safeguard the independence and integrity of those institutions tasked with the defence of democracy and must act as a check on the abuse of power," he said.

Zuma has vowed to get straight down to work with a cabinet he will unveil on Sunday to tackle his pledges for rapid improvements to education, unemployment and the alarming crime situation.

He has also promised to work quickly to boost limping public services while bolstering the economy against a looming recession.

Speculation has been rife over whom he will appoint to his cabinet, after his predecessor Mbeki was criticized for keeping on lackluster ministers.

He also faces pressure from leftist backers who supported him throughout an eight-year prosecution for corruption, but has warned that posts will not necessarily be kept for friends.

- Asian Tribune -

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