Cyril Ramaphosa in tour de force

Boots on the grass, planes in the air and a scroll from up high

26 May 2019 - 00:04 By QAANITAH HUNTER and APHIWE DEKLERK

In a show of strength in front of many of his continental peers, President Cyril Ramaphosa had a full battalion of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) parade at his inauguration yesterday.
For the first time since 1994, Ramaphosa reviewed the battalion as he assumed the position as commander-in-chief following his swearing-in as president.
Ramaphosa took his oath of office before Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in front of thousands of supporters and guests at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
The parade began with a skydiving free-fall by Lt-Col Louiwan Gordan of the SANDF, who parachuted into the stadium and handed a scroll of the preamble of the constitution to Ramaphosa.
The newly sworn-in president was invited to inspect the battalion in review. It is understood that Ramaphosa personally requested that a full battalion be present at his inauguration, an unprecedented occurrence.
Former democratically elected presidents - Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma - usually reviewed SA's military strength only on dedicated army days.
As the four arms of the defence force - the army, the navy, the air force and the medical services - marched past the newly elected president, the audience was jubilant.
At each firing of the 21-gun salute, the crowd cheered as if at a football match.
While many supporters displayed their support for the ANC, others waved South African flags.
Pockets of foreigners were also in the mix, waving their own countries' flags and chanting in support.
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa received applause as he arrived for the inauguration ceremony.

Other heads of state who were present included Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, the recently elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Tshisekedi, and Mokgweetsi Masisi, the president of Botswana.
Heads of state from Angola, Somalia, Seychelles, the Saharawi Republic, South Sudan, Mozambique, Senegal, Namibia, and Togo were also present.
The monarchs of neighbouring Lesotho and eSwatini, respectively King Letsie and King Mswati, also graced the event. Former presidents Mbeki and Motlanthe received warm welcomes from guests and supporters. However, the last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, was heckled by large sections of the crowd. Programme director Baleka Mbete cautioned the crowd against heckling De Klerk.
Former president Jacob Zuma gave the event a miss. However, his third wife, Bongi Ngema, arrived by herself as some people shouted Umshini wam.
Zuma had hinted that he would not be present at the inauguration of his successor when he addressed his supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday.
Earlier in the morning, the crowd protested when the DJ played Sondela, the song by veteran musician Ringo Madlingozi, who became an EFF MP this week.
Ramaphosa arrived at the stadium at 11am sharp. He started his speech just before noon and was finished by 12.30pm. There was a fly-past by aircraft of the South African Air Force, including a helicopter formation, and two SAA aircraft.
The ceremony ended with the singing of the South African and the African Union anthems. Ramaphosa shook hands with heads of state before leaving the podium...

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

X