President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledges the dire impact of pandemic had on the arts sector
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to use Heritage Day to reflect on the values and principles that define the country's population.
He made the call during a virtual Heritage Day event on Friday, reflecting on the challenges facing the country both economically and due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa said the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng had been a set-back for the country’efforts to rebuild an economy ravaged by the lockdowns.
The unrest and looting caused death and destruction, forced businesses to close down and left many more people unemployed.
The President said these events left the country's collective unity shaken, adding that it was therefore imperative for citizens “to reflect on the values and principles that define the country”.
He said by and large citizens of the country respected the constitution, respected each others rights, were intolerant of tribalism and racism and spoke out against gender-based violence.
He called for unity in an effort to overcome the blow dealt by the pandemic and the unrest.
"Let us unite to rebuild South Africa so we can be able to recover as a country from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our unity in our diversity is the most valuable feature of our society," he said.
He said elected officials were also expected to respect the rule of law and not engage in acts of corruption. South Africans are peace-loving people, the president said.
Ramaphosa said the biggest challenge was for the country to overcome the legacy of the past - an unequal economy where poverty and unemployment were major problems.
Ramaphosa also acknowledged the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic on the arts sector.
Thousands of artists have been left without an opportunity to perform because of strict lockdown restrictions.
A number of artists have publicly expressed their frustrations because of the restrictions and have held demonstrations in the past few months.
Ramaphosa said Covid-19 relief to the arts sector had assisted over 34 000 people.