n Journal of Public Administration - Symbolism of a stadium, oath of office, and the speech: editorial commentary through the prism of the inauguration of South Africa's President - editorial

Volume 54 Number 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


As the editors of Rethinking Marxism put it: "it is the fate of print academic journals always to be a bit behind in their commentary of the events of the day" (2011: 297). I cannot agree more. Angled from the perspective of the sixth general elections in South Africa, this editorial commentary through the prism of the inauguration of the president is ex post facto. It is now seven months after these important events took place (elections and the inauguration of the president), which for reasons of history, are worth reflection as they instantiated an important moment in the evolution of the post-apartheid South Africa. For the first time since the inception of the democratic dispensation in South Africa, an inauguration of the President was held in a stadium. Many members of the public took part in the festivities. An attempt to cut costs was mentioned as a reason for this. However, the symbolism of the arrangement pulled a political magic, as instantaneously Ramaphosa became the 'people's president'. Heads of states, majesties and all living former presidents of South Africa graced the occasion, except Jacob Zuma. Of particularly interesting was the different tales of the receptions of the former presidents of South Africa and their inscriptions in the history of the day, including the attendant festivities. However, more important perhaps of them all was his inauguration speech, which followed after he took the oath. Inaugural speeches largely draw their premises from the achievements or blunders of the eras that end, to strike a tone of continuity or discontinuity.

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