South Africa's President Elect Jacob Zuma is expected to be sworn in tomorrow (Saturday) as president to take over from caretaker President Kgalema Motlanthe. The occasion is expected to attract world leaders as well as thousands of Zuma supporters. But main opposition Democratic Alliance is criticizing the inauguration as lavish spending. It said the millions of dollars to be spent could have been used to build low-cost housing or equip the police among others.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told VOA President Zuma is expected to name his cabinet on Sunday.
"He has been elected by the majority in parliament and now what is left is for the Chief Justice or the head of the Constitutional Court to swear him in and in a lavish ceremony in which world leaders mainly from the African continent have been invited," Fikeni said.
He said there is need for Zuma to live up to the pledges he made ahead of the April 22 general election.
"He comes in having promised quite a lot, and he would have to manage the high expectations, especially among the poor, and that in itself is one of the major challenges. And also he comes in a divided nation, which was divided among other things by his court trials. Therefore he would have to do a lot of healing of the nation a lot of uniting," he said.
Fikeni said Zuma has promised to work with other South Africans with dissenting views.
"In his acceptance speech after being elected in parliament seems to have suggested that he will work with the opposition. He will try to work towards rekindling the dream that Nelson Mandela had of reuniting the country and of healing the divisions," Fikeni said.
He said there are reasons to believe the incoming president is capable of healing deep divisions in South Africa.
"Yes he still has those instincts, but we will have to wait and see as to how bruised he is in terms of the feeling that he was a victim of a political conspiracy. Because he may yield to those who also feel they were victims who are in the leadership of the ANC or he may prevail over them and convince them to follow the route of not exerting vengeance, but rather reconciling looking at the bigger vision," he said.
Fikeni said expectations are high in terms of who would be included in Zuma's cabinet.
"His cabinet will include some of the ministers who were there under Thabo Mbeki, especially those who remained either neutral or who supported him during the time of his struggle for succession. And among those you would expect Lindiwe Sisulu, the current minister for housing, the foreign minister who is also the former wide of Jacob Zuma. People like Jeff Radebe and others," Fikeni said.
He said leaders of other parties which contributed to the success of the ANC through the alliance are also likely to be included in Zuma's cabinet.
"But you will also see the members of the tripartite alliance drawn from the Trade Union, drawn from the South African Communist Party leaders like Blade Nzimande are expected in that cabinet in his attempt to be inclusive, but also acknowledge these alliance partners played in rekindling his political career," he said.
According to the government, Zuma's inauguration will be attended by 5,000 dignitaries. Twenty-nine countries will be represented by heads of state, seven by their deputy presidents and 56 by their foreign ministers. Another 30,000 people ? some bused in from townships ? are expected to witness the event.
Meanwhile, the expected presence of the president of neighboring Zimbabwe is generating controversy as well as protests from AfriForum, a civil rights initiative. AfriForum's chief executive, Kallie Kriel, said it was protesting against human rights violations in Zimbabwe. He wished President Robert Mugabe were struck off the guest list.
Zuma takes over the presidency from Kgalema Motlanthe who served for less than a year after former president Thabo Mbeki was forced to step down after he lost the presidency of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Polokwane conference in 2007.
The ANC president was dogged by corruption and sex scandals and his party split last year leading to the formation of the breakaway opposition Congress of the People (COPE). But Zuma and his supporters maintained the eight-year-old graft charges against him were politically motivated to prevent him from becmoing South Africa's next president.
The accusations against Zuma relate to a multi-billion pound arms deal in the late 1990s and a relationship with his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who had already been convicted, imprisoned, and released on parole for soliciting bribes.
Zuma and former South African President Thabo Mbeki struggled for power within
the ANC, the charges against Zuma were dropped on a technicality, and then
re-instated two days after Mbeki was voted out of the party leadership at the
Polokwane conference in 2007.
With the ruling party's overwhliming victory in the Aprill 22 genreal elections, the party would have 264 seats in parliament although it failed to acquire a two-thirds majority which would have allowed the ANC to single handedly amend the constitution without any consultations from the opposition. The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), will have 67 seats while COPE is in third place with 30 seats.