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A new era has dawned in our country

FROM THE UNION BUILDINGS

I come before you having just taken the oath to be President of our beautiful country South Africa.

I am humbled by the trust you have bestowed upon me, aware of the challenges our country faces, but also alive to the fact that our people are filled with hope for a better tomorrow.

Twenty-five years have passed since that glorious morning on which Nelson Rolihahla Mandela was sworn in as the first President of a democratic South Africa.

In the passage of that time, our land has known both seasons of plenty and times of scarcity.

As the shackles of oppression have fallen away, they have felt their horizons widen and their lives improve in a myriad ways.

Through the irrefutable power of the ballot on 8 May, South Africans declared the dawn of a new era.

They have chosen hope over hopelessness, they have opted for unity over conflict and divisions.

We all want our children to have lives that are better than our own, to have work that is dignified and rewarding.

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.

It is a society guided by the fundamental human principle that says: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. Motho ke motho ka batho.

Muthu ndi muthu nga vhangwe vhathu.

Munhu yi munhu yi vanhu.

Our Constitution – the basic law of our land – continues to guide our way even at the darkest hour.

As a nation we therefore can no longer abide the grave disparities of wealth and opportunity that have defined our past and which threaten to imperil our 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.

It is a society where every person, regardless of race or sex or circumstance, may experience the fundamental necessities of a decent, dignified life.

Let us declare before the esteemed witnesses gathered here that such a South Africa is possible.

Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation.

Let us declare that when we gather to celebrate the 50th year of our freedom there shall no longer be any person in this land who is unable to meet their basic needs.

Like our forebears who gathered so many years ago on a piece of veld in Kliptown to declare that the people shall govern, let us aspire to a future beyond the probable.

Let us forge a compact for an efficient, capable and ethical state, a state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.

We must be a society that values excellence, rewards effort and hard work and rejects mediocrity.

We must be a society that values its young people by creating a conducive environment for them to gain skills and be productively employed to develop our country.

Let us build a truly non-racial society, one that belongs to all South Africans, and in which all South Africans belong.

Let us build a society that protects and values those who are vulnerable and who for too long have been rendered marginal.

A society where disability is no impediment, where there is tolerance, and where no person is judged on their sexual orientation, where no person suffers prejudice because of the colour of their skin, the language of their birth or their country of origin.

It is you, the people of South Africa, who havse spoken.

Having taken the oath of office I am saying yes, South Africa Thuma Mina.

And I pledge here today that I will serve you, I will work with you, side by side, to build the South Africa that we all want and deserve.

A new era has dawned in our country.

Nkosi Sikelel’ Afrika.