AFRICANGLOBE – Flyover formations, festivities, high fashion, political friends and foes and a promise for radical change accompanied the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Saturday.
Zuma — donning a dark suit and red polka dot tie — took his oath of office for a second term of office, led by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Zuma said the new term marked the start of the second phase of transition from an apartheid society.
“This second phase will involve the implementation of radical socio-economic transformation policies and programmes over the next five years.”
He reiterated his commitment to the ANC’s policy of a National Development Plan, deeming it a “road map” until 2030.
Zuma emphasised that economic transformation was a key area of focus.
“The structure of the economy will be transformed through industrialisation, broad-based Black economic empowerment and through strengthening and expanding the role of the state in the economy.”
He said that more work needed to be done to change the ownership and control of the economy.
Land restitution and redistribution needed to be “better executed”, said Zuma.
Zuma arrived at the Nelson Mandela amphitheatre, accompanied by his first wife Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo. His three other wives arrived before him.
Earlier aircrafts formed a number 20 formation — representing two decades of democracy — in the sky to the delight of the exhuberant crowd.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, former president Thabo Mbeki and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe all received loud cheers and whistles on their arrival.
Other dignitaries to receive cheers were former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.
Opposition politicians were also in attendance Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema ditching his trademark red overall, boiler hat and gumboots in favour of a black suit and tie.
ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela took her seat in the amphitheatre, dressed in black as she was still in mourning following former president Nelson Mandela’s death in December last year.
Looking ahead to the next process of forming the fifth democratic government, program co-director and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe joked with the crowd about how some MPs were nervously waiting for Zuma’s cabinet announcement on Sunday.
A group of people from Nkandla travelled to the inauguration to witness what they called “a blessing”.
The northern KwaZulu-Natal village is the site of Zuma’s traditional homestead which has been at the centre of controversy around the millions of rand spent on security upgrades.
Zuma, who turned 72 this year, was politicised at a young age and joined the ANC Youth League as a teenager.
He later became a member of the armed wing of the party Umkhonto we Sizwe and at the age of 21 he was imprisoned on Robben Island.
After his release in 1973, he continued his involvement in the apartheid struggle.
He was appointed deputy president of the country in 1999.
However, after an announcement by the National Prosecuting Authority in 2003 that it would prosecute Zuma on corruption charges linked to the arms deal, then president Thabo Mbeki sacked him.
The charges were later dropped.
Zuma faced further scrutiny in 2005 when he was accused of raping a woman 30 years his junior.
Though he was eventually found not guilty in court, Zuma raised eyebrows by admitting he had unprotected sex with the woman even though he knew she was HIV positive, and that he sought to minimise the risk of transmission by having a shower.
Mbeki was later recalled from his position in 2008 and following national elections the following year, Zuma was inaugurated as president for the first time.
This year’s elections were held on May 7 with Zuma leading the ANC campaign.
After the party obtained 62.15 percent of the vote, the way was paved for Zuma to continue serving as the head of the country for the next five years.