The inauguration of President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma ushers in South Africa's fourth democratically elected government. It is poised to serve the nation by implementing a mandate won in an election that was strongly contested with strong participation across South African society.
significant challenges, but a country that can also take pride in what it has achieved since the attainment of democracy. When the Independent Electoral Commission confirmed the results of the election, Jacob Zuma, acknowledged the responsibilities placed on his shoulders as the leader of the ANC. He called for a new resolve based on selflessness and commitment to accelerate transformation and improve the quality of life of all South Africans.
"We are very grateful and humbled by the decisive mandate we have received from millions of South Africans.... They were attracted by our policies and the delivery of service in the past 15 years, as a well as the track record of this movement in working to build a better South Africa since 1912.
"We do not take the mandate lightly. We know the responsibility that comes with it. The new President of the Republic will be a President for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement of the delivery of services. Working together we will make it a government for all South Africans." - 25 April 2009.
Unite the nation
In the past 15 years, much has been achieved to unite the nation, improve social and economic conditions, and enable South Africa to play its part on the international stage. Internationally, South Africa has established itself as a country helping to represent the interests of the developing world, and as a campaigner for a more equitable system of international governance.
Nevertheless there is more to be done. Our shared goals for development and equity will still take time to achieve in full. New challenges have arisen, not least from the world's economic crisis.
Against this backdrop, President Zuma will lead a dedicated team of government leaders. They are mandated to work together with all sectors of society to implement programmes that prioritise economic growth and job creation; rural development; education; a better functioning health system; and intensify the fight against poverty and crime.
Better life for all
This administration will ensure that South Africa continues to pursue an equitable system of international governance that favours regional and continental integration and development.
Collectively, members of the new government have spent most of their lives immersed first in the struggle for freedom, then in the building of a free, non-racial and non-sexist democratic South Africa. They are guided by a constitution that respects the human rights of all, building on 15 years of a democratic government committed to create a better life for all.
In the five years ahead, Mr Zuma will lead a team that combines experience with new energy. In the context of a renewed mandate, they will continue uniting the nation and transforming the inequalities embedded over many years of colonialism and apartheid.