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Pretoria - Social cohesion among South Africans is hindered by lingering inequalities, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
“We have made good progress in building social cohesion and promoting a new single national identity, and work is continuing in this regard.”
“The biggest barrier to further increasing social cohesion is the remaining inequality in society which needs to be attended to further,” he said.
Zuma was releasing South Africa's 20 year review document at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.
“To fight poverty and inequality, a range of pro-poor government policies have been implemented since 1994, which is among South Africa's key achievements,” he said.
“Most of the achievements in reducing extreme levels of income poverty can be ascribed to government's comprehensive social protection programme. This includes extensive income support programmes for close to 16 million orphans and vulnerable children, older persons, and people with disabilities, among others.”
Government had inherited enormous backlogs in the infrastructure required to deliver services, including the provision of public health services and basic services, such as water, sanitation, electricity and waste removal.
“We are also still dealing with the impact of the Bantu education system which was designed to keep the black majority confined to unskilled labour,” he said.
“As most of you are aware, there have been great improvements in access to healthcare services as well since 1994. In addition to free basic health care, more than 1500 healthcare facilities have been built and existing ones have been revitalised over the past 20 years.”
But much work remained for government and citizens to achieve the expectations and aspirations of the nation.
“Going forward, we should commit to working together further, to implement the National Development Plan to deal with remaining challenges and take our country forward.”
“South Africa is a success story. South Africa is a good story. We have succeeded because of the hard work of all our people who contributed in various ways to rebuilding their country,” he said.
Zuma said the review was government's “factual and frank” account of how South Africa had fared since 1994.
“The review is packed with facts and figures, it is honest and frank in its approach. Where facts indicate that we have challenges and we have made mistakes we say so,” said Zuma.
“It is government's most accurate account of work done in the past 20 years... it is about progress made and work that still needs to be done to move South Africa forward.”
Senior government officials, business executives, analysts, and media personnel packed the room at the guesthouse as Zuma read out the review document.
Zuma said the review was dedicated to former president Nelson Mandela who died in December. - Sapa