Speaker, Deputy Speaker, the Chief Justice of our country as well as the Deputy Chief Justice, Isithwalandwe uBaba u-Andrew Mlangeni who is here with us [Applause.] Members of Parliament, the leaders of faith-based formations who are here with us, distinguished guests and fellow South Africans, I would like to start off on a wonderful light note.
Today is somebody's birthday and she requested me, by saying, "President once you are confirmed, could you as your very first presidential act, sing for me a happy birthday song" [Laughter.] That is Ayanda Dlodlo who is celebrating her birthday today. [Applause.] I said to her I would only sing for her ... I have perfected my singing, hon Malema, particularly in private. I said I would sing for her if she disclose her age to me. She did not want to disclose her age. So, I am not going to sing.
Hon members and fellow South Africans, I am truly honoured and humbled to have been elected to serve the people of our country and indeed, our country as President of the Republic of South Africa. This is a deep honour for me and I am humbled by this.
It is a responsibility that I intend to discharge with a greatest of care, but also to the best of my ability. It's a responsibility that I undertake mindful of the needs, aspirations, the hopes and the expectation of the people of South Africa.
In this regard, I will seek to act and be the President of all South Africans and not just a President of those who voted for the party that I lead and also for those who voted for the parties that are here. So, I will be the President for all South Africans and not just a President for the ANC and those who voted. [Applause.]
It has been two weeks since the people of our country went to the polls to elect the hon members who are now gathered in this House. The people of our country went to the polls in peace and with a great deal of pride and dignity. I stand here to applaud the masses of our people who braved terrible weather conditions, and all manner of challenges and difficulties to go out and vote and participate in the elections that have brought us all here
today. [Applause.] Let us applaud them and thank them. [Applause.]
We all know that we had a hotly contested and often discordant election campaign. All political parties present here and those that could not win a seat did their utmost to undo each other, but the people of South Africa have had their say. In some cases, some of the parties did undo the others, but we are all here united as Members of Parliament to do what our people would like to see done.
Our people have spoken. They have spoken very clearly and they have also spoken quite emphatically. In its composition, this House is a reflection of the will of the people. Together, we are their representatives. I think we should also regard ourselves as their champions.
Together, despite our different party affiliations, we carry a common mandate to build the nation our people yearn for, where all will be free - free from poverty, hunger and also unemployment - but where they will also feel that they are
secure, equal and are able to lead a livelihood that would be able to support their households and their families.
Collectively, all of us who are here, we have a mandate to build a nation founded on the principles of social justice, solidarity and equality. We also have a mandate to build a nation that is at peace with itself and the world. We have been given this responsibility on an overriding basis to revive our economy, to create jobs, to not only bring hope to the masses of our people, to actualise that hope and make sure that indeed their aspirations are met.
We have also been given a responsibility to revive and rekindle the institutions that we have in our country - institutions that not only support democracy but institutions that advance the lives of our people. The people of this country expect us to work together, to collaborate, to build consensus and to effect change. They expect us to find solutions, solutions where people might believe that the difficulties are intractable, but they expect us to tackle those difficult issues and find solutions for them.
Certainly, they expect a robust exchange of views in this House. They understand that we may not often agree. They also know that we will differ quite a lot on a number of issues, but they also would like to see us dealing with each other with honour, dignity and respect. [Applause.] That is what our people expect. They also would like us to respect their wishes. The majority of people in our country want us to respect them.
As we debate here they do not want to see a House that could degenerate into chaos and disorder as you said hon Malema. They want to see their House being a House of debate, robust discussions, but not a House of chaos, disorder and a House that is underpinned by disrespect for one another.
As we enter the sixth democratic administration, please be assured of my personal commitment and the commitment of the incoming executive to fulfil these obligations of seeking consensus, collaborating, and working together to find solutions to all the challenges that our country faces. Please be assured of our commitment to work with Parliament - the NA and the NCOP - where we will work together with all parties represented here
to create the conditions for meaningful social and economic transformation.
X. wish to express my gratitude to the Chief Justice for presiding over the establishment of this new Parliament. However, I also want to thank you Chief Justice for doing an unprecedented act of going on your knees and praying, not only for this Parliament but praying for our nation. [Applause.] Hon Groenewald could not hear your prayer but I heard the Chief Justice's prayer.
Like you, I wish it was broadcast so that everyone in the land could hear what prayer the Chief Justice was offering. It is wonderful to have a Chief Justice who is not only person deeply steeped in jurisprudence but also a person deeply steeped in matters of the faith. Thank you very much, Chief Justice. [Applause.]
Hon Maimane, thank you for your kind words. Your words about collaboration are going to underpin my work, as President. My mandate is to build a social compact amongst all South Africans.
I will be proceeding to do precisely that and also extend and deepen the consultation, working together with you and various other leaders of other parties who are represented here.
We will be doing so to ensure that we improve the lives of all South Africans. So, hon Maimane collaboration is my second name. I will be collaborating with you quite extensively. So, join me as I extend my hand of collaboration. [Applause.] Hon Malema, thank you for your kind words of congratulations. I want to assure you that my interest in serving our people will not be derived from serving special interest groups or whoever they may be. You've named them, but whoever they may be, my mandate is derived from the masses of our people.
Like you, I have to speak to all South Africans and to advance the interest of our people. Yes, I will be able to work with whoever, be there in business, community-based organisations. Like Madiba did I will be able to walk with kings, to work with them and queens and captains of industries and all in sundry without losing the common touch of the masses of our people. That I will not do. [Applause.]
My focus, hon Malema, is going to be on advancing the interest of our people. When I was a trade unionist I was able to talk to the bosses, managers of various companies. As I did that my sole interest was to advance the interest of mine workers. In this case, it will be to advance the interest of the masses of our people, who still suffer under the burden of unemployment, inequality and poverty. That is going to be the driving loadstar that will lead me to do all those things in the interest of our people. I can assure you of that. No special interest, only the interest of our people as a whole. - be assured. [Applause.]
A number of leaders have spoken and congratulated me and I thank you for all that. Hon Groenewald, yes, our people want hope, but they also want much more than hope. We need to get down to work, to ensure that our people can see that we are addressing their needs and aspirations. They can see that, indeed, this is a government that is going to work for them. I want to say I am prepared to work with the FF Plus in making sure that we build South Africa.
Thank you for articulating your wish to work with us to build this South Africa that we can make the South Africa of our dreams. We want to live into the future, but we must also remember that the past should not define what should happen in the future. We must address that past in order for us to plot a way to the future. [Applause.] That is what we are going to do. [Applause.]
Rev Meshoe, yes, you want tough leadership. Yes, there will be toughness because the problems that we confront are huge. They are immense. Yes, we are going to be tough and to make tough choices as well. We are going to ensure that as we address the needs of our people we take difficult decisions and some of those difficult decisions may be tough decisions against certain people and certain interest groups.
Rev Meshoe, I am a fisherman. Yes, I know you talked about a living fish that can turn upstream. As I go out to catch a fish, that's precisely what I always observe. We will be able to be good fishermen so that we can fully address the interest of our people. Yes, also by turning upstream.
General Holomisa, you said that Madiba would be smiling wherever he is but I see Madiba smiling for all of us. He is not singling out a single individual. He is smiling for all of us as he sees this Parliament. This Parliament that he worked so hard to help put together is now a Sixth Parliament that would please him immensely. Madiba wherever you are, I know that your smile is for all of us.
OR Tambo wherever you are, I know that as you look at us you are smiling with deep pleasure. Walter Sisulu, Mama Albertina and Winnie Madikizela Mandela look at us and say we are on the right path. I think they would all say is keep on the right path, continue to do the right things and work in a way that does not defy the image of this South Africa that they worked for so hard to build.
Hon Hendricks, thank you very much for your congratulatory message. Yes, it our intention that we should all work together to achieve the great ideals that our people have. My dearest sister, hon Patricia de Lille, I am glad to hear that Good will
not only support but will also offer love. I am so much in need of love. [Interjections.] Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Yes, we will make sure that government does become accountable. We will work hard. You have been a great advocate for accountability. We will make sure that we do have a government that is accountable to the people of our country, but always accountable for what it does - that we will ensure.
Hon Sibisi, speaking on behalf of umama Magwaza Msibi, the leader of the NFP. Yes, you want to see change. Change is what you are going to see. This sixth administration is going to be about change. Our people yearn for change and change is what you are going to offer them. Thank you very much for your kind message.
The party of land and revolution, the PAC, thank you very much for your very kind message of congratulations. The land question is what is on the table in this Parliament. It did not die with the Fifth Parliament. It is now here, on this table and we are going to solve the land question. [Applause.]
Hon Zungu, you say and correct so that our people I want more than hope. I am able to join you in saying we need to go beyond hope. We must build hope because hope should spring eternal in the hearts of our people. Our people cannot eat hope. Our people want more than hope and we are going to work extremely hard to give them more than just hope.
Ntate Lekota ke a leboha.
You say that the fate of our people is in my hands. I look at it differently. The fate of our people is in our collective hands here in this Parliament. [Applause.] All of us must see ourselves as holding the hopes, aspirations and the fate of our people in our hands. What we do here, it's what should improve the lives of our people. You say you have never been a President before. My recollection is that you are president of Cope. [Laughter.]
O a rata kapa ha o rate o Mopresidente. Ke kopa hee monghadi wa ka, tseo tse o ntse o di bona o le Mopresidente wa Cope, ha eba dintle, o di fitise o di tlise mona ho nna, hore le nna ke kgone ho ithuta tseo tse o di etsang hantle mane ho Cope.
So, both of us are presidents'. I am president of the ANC and you are president of Cope. May be where we differ is that you have never been a President of a country, I am.
Ke moo re fapanang teng! Ke tla o ruta tse ding; le wena o tla nthuta tse ding he! Ke a leboha ntate Lekota.
Hon Galo, thank you very much for your very kind message as well. We will continue to fight for the interest and the rights of our people. You said the fighting spirits should be positive and I join you in that. We want positive spirits and I just wish that those positive spirits should continue to prevail here. I
thank all the leaders of the political parties for the manner in which you have expressed your congratulatory messages.
Nawe ke Gwede ...
.. hon Mantashe, thank you very much for your congratulatory message. For a minute, you came to me and said what should you say, but you found your words. [Laughter.] Thank you very much for those wonderful words.
Now, lastly, allow me then to thank you for all those wonderful messages of support and congratulations. [Interjections.]
Hhawu ngingakhohlwa kanjani ubaba uButhelezi. Hhawu ilungu elihloniphekile uButhelezi, Shenge ...
... you are the sage of this Parliament. There is no one else who competes with you when it comes to age. There is no one in this Parliament who competes with you in as far as experience as well as wisdom. You are a reservoir of wisdom. [Applause.]
Hon Buthelezi gave me his written message and it is for that reason that I just skipped for a moment. It's a beautifully written message that I will cherish. I will cherish because this is a message that is meant from the heart. I thank you for the wisdom that is embedded in this message.
Ngiyabonga kakhulu Shenge ...
... with all these wonderful words that you have expressed. I just wish that your wisdom could continue to be spread amongst all of us who are here. As the House in the Fifth Parliament got into disorder, you were the only sane and most experienced voice that sought to keep us together. I just wish that continues even
in this Sixth Parliament. Thank you very much for your very kind words.
Allow me then to thank all of you, as Members of Parliament in advance for all the work that we are all going to do. It is a word of congratulations to all of us because by being here, we have been singled out by the masses of our people to come and work for them.
So, it's a word of congratulations, but at the same time it's a call to arms and hard work. What lies ahead for all of us as we will get engaged and involved in the robust debates and the work that we are going to do, let us remember all time that our people have stored a great deal of confidence and their hope in us.
Lastly, allow me to congratulate the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker on their election. Today, we sit here in the House that has been made by our people because our people have spoken. They have given us their clear mandate. It is now time for us to go to work and work for our people.
As for me, I commit myself to work day and night, very hard, at the same to work for the interest of our people. I am therefore humbled with this honour that is bestowed on me to be President of the people of South Africa, as President of the Republic of South Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]