From GBV to racism — five important takeouts from Cyril Ramaphosa's Youth Day address

17 June 2020 - 11:18
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Cyril Ramaphosa said in his Youth Day speech that the economy took a knock in the lockdown and is expected to contract further, worsening already high unemployment.
Image: GCIS Cyril Ramaphosa said in his Youth Day speech that the economy took a knock in the lockdown and is expected to contract further, worsening already high unemployment.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a virtual Youth Day address as South Africans commemorated the 44th anniversary of the June 16 1976 student uprising.

Here are five critical takeouts from his address:

Agents for change

He said youths continue to show courage by excelling in their respective fields, despite challenges they may face. He said they use their voices to shape the kind of society and world they want to live in.

“Young South Africans have achieved new levels of excellence in science, arts, sport, technology and business and in professions. Importantly, young South Africans have been driven by a progressive, political consciousness that informs the kind of society that they seek to build - but also, the country that they seek and want to live in.”

Gender-based violence

Ramaphosa said the youth, in particular young men, must ensure the safety of women, who are vulnerable to abuse, by being at the forefront in the fight against gender-based violence.

“We have been saddened by the recurring news of men attacking and killing women in the past few weeks. Men continue to kill women in the most horrific and barbaric fashion. The women of our country don’t feel safe in their homes, they don’t feel safe in their workplaces, places of worship and even just walking in the street. Young people, and in particular men, must become even more active in the fight against GBV.”


He said the collective voices of young South Africans who have fought against racism and supported the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks have proven to be a catalyst for change in confronting racial discrimination and prejudice.

“Young South Africans are also taking up global challenges. The heinous murder of George Floyd in the US has brought to the fore tremendous pain and sadness and outrage. It has also brought a renewed commitment to fight racism and injustice as it happens.”

Fighting coronavirus 

Ramaphosa said the easing of some of the lockdown regulations does not mean that the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is over. South Africans are urged to, when campaigning against racism and GBV, follow public health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Coronavirus will be with us for the foreseeable future. It has in many ways changed the world fundamentally and has forced us to adapt to new ways of working, and socialising. Our country must remain steadfast in our effort to fight against the pandemic.”

Reviving the economy

Ramaphosa admitted the country's economy took a knock during levels 4 and 5 of the lockdown, worsening the already high unemployment.

“This is particularly difficult on young people, whose studies have been interrupted, whose businesses may need to close, who may lose jobs and who do not have the benefits of savings or assets. Coronavirus has exacerbated the deep racial, economic and social inequalities in our country, it has laid them bare.”