South Africa's Zuma pledges focus on economy in second inauguration

Economic challenges await Jacob Zuma
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Story highlights

  • South African President Jacob Zuma vows his government will perform better this time
  • Zuma's party, the African National Congress, won 62% of vote -- lower than before
  • ANC still enjoys widespread support after governing 20 years

South African President Jacob Zuma was sworn in Saturday for a second term, pledging to focus on the economy in a country battling growing inequality.

"Today marks the beginning of the second phase of our transition from apartheid to a national democratic society," Zuma said during his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"This second phase will involve the implementation of radical socioeconomic transformation policies and programs over the next five years."

His party, the African National Congress, won the general election this month, holding on to power despite economic woes, deadly mining protests and corruption allegations.

It got 62% of the vote -- lower than the last time -- with its popularity and that of Zuma's taking a hit due to various issues, including a scandal centered in his private homestead in Nkandla. The state watchdog has alleged more than $20 million of public money was misused in improvements to the sprawling complex. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.

After a turbulent first term, Zuma said his government will perform better this time around and take responsibility for any shortcomings.

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"We will ... ensure much tighter accountability, with firm consequences where there is a failure to deliver services to our people," he said.

He said South Africa has made progress since the days of apartheid two decades ago.

"While the lives of millions of people have improved, poverty, inequality and unemployment still persist," he said.

"Economic transformation will take center stage during this new term of government as we put the economy on an inclusive growth path."

The ANC, which has governed for 20 years, still enjoys widespread support after the defeat of the apartheid system and the beginning of democracy in South Africa.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, were among the heads of state attending Saturday's ceremony.