President Ramaphosa addresses the 2018 Heads of Mission Conference at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in Pretoria. Picture: Dirco

Tshwane - President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday his government was leading a South Africa emerging from a very difficult past, characterised by massive corruption and the erosion of confidence in key state institutions.

"It is important that we should not overlook the challenges that we have, emerging from a period of great difficulty, a period which almost on a daily basis as each page is turned, we begin to realise how difficult the past years have really been," Ramaphosa told a Heads of Mission conference at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria.

"But it is clear that our democracy is resilient. Many democracies would have buckled under the weight of what we have gone through. We haven't. We are still standing, as a democracy and a country. And the important thing, notwithstanding where we have been, we are addressing the immediate challenges that we face."

The conference is being held under the theme: “A New Dawn: Inclusiveness of South Africa’s foreign policy which aims to promote a better South Africa, Africa and world”.

The biennial meeting together the heads of South Africa’s diplomatic missions abroad to assess national, regional, continental and global trends and dynamics, and to determine a strategy to be implemented in line with South Africa’s foreign policy vision and mission.

Ramaphosa told the diplomats that his administration wanted them to tell a good story about South Africa "in a relaxed manner not ducking and diving" due to scandals happening back home.

"One of the challenges, as you all know, that we faced was corruption. Corruption had and has become so endemic in our country as to almost make us a failing state," he said. "But we are arresting that. We are turning that around and the Zondo Commission is doing its work wonderfully. The truth of what has happened in the past is beginning to come out."

Ramaphosa assured the envoys that South Africa was "going to clean up", saying this was specifically needed for the country's ailing state-owned enterprises. 

"The message there is very clear. People who have been involved in malfeasance and wrongdoing need to be accountable," said the president.

"That is not a process where we are hunting people down. It is just being accountable for the wrongs that have happened."

African News Agency/ANA