Ramaphosa calls on South Africans to unite in dealing with challenges
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to unite in confronting challenges facing the country.
Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa reflected on the release of former president Nelson Mandela, who was freed from prison 30 years ago on February 11 1990.
“This was a moment of great joy across the length and breadth of the country. I remember vividly the large crowd that had gathered outside Victor Verster prison in Paarl, waiting patiently for several hours to see their hero walk free, and the many more residents of Cape Town who gathered on the Grand Parade to hear him speak.
“The people celebrated with great enthusiasm not only because, after 27 years, a great leader of our people was among us again, but because his release was a defining moment in our onward march towards democracy,” he said, reflecting on the day of Mandela's release.
Ramaphosa said of the many things Madiba said when he stood on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall that day, there was one statement that has remained with him all these years.
“The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. It was true then and it remains true three decades later.”
Ramaphosa firmly believes it was the unity of the people and their shared desire for peace and democracy that made it possible for South Africans to go to the polls four years later.
“Now we confront challenges of a completely different nature. Our democracy is well entrenched. Our institutions are robust and durable. We are at peace, and over the past 25 years our people have experienced improvements in almost all areas of life.
“Yet, there is so much further we need to travel. Inequality, especially as defined by race and gender, remains among the highest in the world. Unemployment is deepening and poverty is widespread. Violence, including the violence that men perpetrate against women, continues to ravage our communities.
“In confronting these challenges, it is vital we remain united.
“Our history tells us we can overcome even the most intractable of problems only when we work together. The release of Madiba, like the end of apartheid itself, was achieved through united and sustained action. It was achieved by putting aside differences to pursue a common goal,” said Ramaphosa.
“We all seek a growing, inclusive economy that creates jobs. We seek a capable developmental state that provides affordable services efficiently. We seek education, health, homes and safety for all.
“I am certain we can achieve all this for our country, but it will require much closer collaboration among all parts of society – government, unions, business, community structures, traditional leaders, students, faith-based organisations, academics and others."
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