Ramaphosa says SA has much to be proud of but still has much further to go
December 16 marks two events in our history that are enduring symbols of conflict and resistance, so says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He made these comments on his regular Monday’s column From the desk of the President ahead of him addressing the National Reconciliation Day Commemoration in Bergville, North of KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.
Ramaphosa said South Africans commemorate the epic battle of 1838 on the banks of the Ncome River, and the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe on the same day over a century later.
“These two historical events are of deep significance; and now symbolic of our ability to transcend a bitter legacy and forge a new path.
“As we take stock of how far we have come in healing the divisions of the past and building a united nation, we have much to be proud of.
“One need only observe the outpouring of joy when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in Japan and when our Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe. South Africans of all races took to the streets in an outpouring of national pride,” Ramaphosa said.
He said it's seen it elsewhere every day. In sports that is now desegregated, in Parliament, in transformed places of higher learning and our schools, and on television screens where programming reflects the diversity of the nation and its languages and cultures.
"Racism and bigotry no longer define our nation. Where they do occur, they are isolated. Where there have been manifestations of intolerance, we have been able to unite behind the values of tolerance and respect for diversity that define our Bill of Rights.
"Yet, we still have much further to go.
“The SA Reconciliation Barometer Survey 2019, which is published by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, reports that a vast majority of South Africans agree that our country still needs reconciliation. At the same time, just over a half of respondents believe that South Africa has made progress with reconciliation since 1994.
“According to the survey, most respondents agree that reconciliation is impossible as long as corruption continues, political parties sow division, those who were affected by apartheid continue to be poor, gender-based violence remains, we continue to use racial categories to measure transformation, and racism in our society remains unaddressed,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the survey confirms that true reconciliation is not only about social cohesion saying it is also about political and economic transformation.
“Since we attained our democracy our people have demonstrated time and again their immense capacity to look beyond superficial differences in the quest to achieve true nationhood, and with it, embrace a fuller humanity.
“This is not to diminish the impact of the past. The South Africa of today still suffers from the effects of centuries of discrimination, dispossession and unequal development.
“As the author William Faulkner famously wrote of the American South: “The past is not dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.”
“We must address the unfinished business of our democratic transition. We must close the festering wound of inequality that exists between our people. We must forge ahead with land reform and social development. We must continue to transform our workplaces and restructure our economy so it benefits all,” Ramaphosa said.