Pretoria, May 9 (Prensa Latina) Jacob Zuma, the winner for the African National Congress in the polls of April 22, took the oath of office Saturday as the fourth South African president since apartheid.

Under tight security and in the presence of nearly twenty heads of State and Government, Zuma confirmed the ANC victory after 15 years in government.

The inauguration was attended by Nobel Peace Prizewinner and first black South African President Nelson Mandela and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Mothlanthe.

In the current world capitalist crisis also affecting the South African economy, Zuma faces the challenge to increase employment, improve health and education systems, agriculture and to fight crime.

Zuma was born in 1942 of a poor family in Nkandla village, Kwazulu-Natal province.

His political career started when he was 17 and joined the ANC’ armed wing to fight apartheid.

He was detained in 1963 and given a ten-year sentence in the Robben Island prison along with leader Nelson Mandela.

After his release, he went into exile in Swaziland, Mozambique and Zambia, contributing to increase the number of members of then underground ANC.

He returned to his home province after the ANC ban was lifted and helped to ease tension in relations among main political forces in the area.

Carismatic and wearing native clothes, he appears in public scenes surrounded by followers, who cheer him and sing traditional songs.

He is considered one of the most popular leaders along with Mandela.