Jacob Zuma was sworn in as South African president on Saturday after a remarkable political comeback and quickly highlighted the challenges he faces as the continent’s biggest economy heads towards recession. The prospect of Zuma taking the oath of office before heads of state was unthinkable during the turbulent years when he was nearly ruined by graft and rape charges, crises that might have buried many politicians.

SWORN INPromising to help South Africans realise their dreams, Zuma, 67, took a sober view of the country’s economy which may already be in its first recession in 17 years. “We must acknowledge that we find ourselves in difficult economic times. Jobs are being lost in every economy across the world,” Zuma said in his inauguration speech. “We will not be spared the negative impact, and are beginning to feel the pinch.”

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela, praised globally for his struggle against apartheid, attended the presidential inauguration ceremony, in a huge political coup for the charismatic Zuma. During the ceremony, air force jets flew over the presidential offices where he will have to make tough decisions after winning a wide mandate to lead with the ruling African National Congress’s (ANC) landslide April 22 election victory.

While South Africans respect the ANC for its anti-apartheid struggle, they are growing impatient with the rampant poverty, crime and an AIDS epidemic Zuma has promised to tackle.



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