UK & World News

  • 24 May 2014, 20:29

Zuma Pledges SA 'Economic Transformation'

Jacob Zuma has been sworn in again as South African president vowing "economic transformation" will take "centre stage" in his second term in power.

He pledged the economy would be put on an "inclusive growth path" and promised to promote "broad-based black economic empowerment".

There have been concerns that much of the economy remains in the hands of South Africa's white minority.

In his speech to a cheering crowd of thousands, Mr Zuma said his country was "a much better place to live in now than before 1994".

But he added that poverty, unemployment and other problems persisted despite many improvements.

The ceremony, attended by dignitaries including the leaders of Nigeria and Zimbabwe, was marked by dance, prayer, a 21-gun salute and flyovers by the air force.

It took place in the amphitheatre of Pretoria's Union Buildings - the seat of government - where just five months before Nelson Mandela's body lay in state.

"Today marks the beginning of the second phase of our transition from apartheid to a national democratic society," Mr Zuma said, promising a bigger economic role for the state.

Mr Zuma was a former anti-apartheid activist who was jailed for 10 years on Robben Island, the same prison where Mr Mandela was held for many years.

As president, Mr Zuma has been hit by criticism over a scandal surrounding more than $20m (12m) in state spending on his private home.

On May 7, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) won elections, continuing its political dominance since the end of the apartheid system that it had fought for decades.

The ANC retains a comfortable majority, but opposition parties have capitalised with some success on allegations of official corruption and mismanagement.

National elections are held every five years.