Jacob Zuma has been sworn in as the new president of South Africa.
The 67-year-old took the oath of office in front of jubilant supporters this morning at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the official seat of South Africa’s government. Former president Nelson Mandela was present to give his blessing to the new regime. Like Mandela, Zuma served a long jail sentence on Robben Island under the old apartheid regime and if the new leader is a controversial figure whose image has been tarnished by rape and corruption charges, he also projects a charisma earnt through a lifetime of activism. Zuma, of ethnic Zulu origins, has pledged to champion the interests of the poor when in power. “He understands and he knows each and everything what is happening to the poorest of the poor in South Africa and I know Zuma he means change and Zuma he is going to make it and Zuma is going to succeed,” said one bystander. But he has also been keen not to scare away foreign investors during what is likely to be a difficult mandate – South Africa is facing up to its first recession in 17 years.