SA must address social ills to achieve reconciliation, says President

President Cyril Ramaphosa says to achieve true reconciliation, the country must first overcome poverty, inequality and underdevelopment that affects the country’s majority.

“True reconciliation will not be possible unless we address the many ills in our society. We cannot build a truly caring society so long as the country’s majority live in conditions of poverty, inequality and deprivation, while a minority exists in comfort and privilege,” he said.

The President made these remarks during his address to mark the 25th national Day of Reconciliation on Wednesday.

Making reference to recent flare-ups of racial tensions in Senekal in the Free State, Eldorado Park in Gauteng and Brackenfell in Cape Town, the President said these incidents show that the state of race relations in the country remain fragile.

“We may have come a long way from the days of institutionalised racism, but we are alive to the reality that for many, reconciliation is something they have yet to experience,” he said.

Reflecting on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that started in the United States and spread across the globe and saw people demonstrate against discrimination of black people, the President said more work needs to be done to realise reconciliation.

Highlighting poverty, inequality and socio-economic ills, President Ramaphosa said these must be addressed to effectively deal with the institutionalised racism that exists.

In this regard, the President said businesses must support policies of redress and transformation through hiring practices, in capacitating and skilling staff, and in investing in the communities in which they operate.

“Labour must continue with its important mandate to protect and advance the rights of workers, and work towards improving the industrial relations landscape.

“Farming organisations and landowners must support government’s efforts towards land reform, which is a fundamental part of reconciliation,” he said.

Having concluded the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign a week ago, the President reaffirmed the need to address the scourge of gender-based violence in the country’s reconciliation efforts.

“We cannot achieve reconciliation for as long as the women of our country – who constitute half of our population – live in fear of gender-based violence.

“We must stand firm in our rejection of all forms of violence against women and children. As men we must be integrally involved in this struggle, because it is men who are the perpetrators,” said the President.

While highlighting the social ills that still persist, the President noted that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the nations’ ability to overcome challenges by joining hands.

“Perhaps not since the advent of democracy in 1994 have we stood together as a united nation, bound by empathy, compassion and our common humanity.

“As much as the pandemic exposed the great economic divisions that exist between us, it has shown once again that we are not the society that the apartheid system intended us to become,” said the President. –

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