Ramaphosa: Govt failed SA with Marikana tragedy

President Cyril Ramaphosa is responding to the debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

South Africa's new president Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech after being elected by the Members of Parliament in Cape Town, on 15 February 2018. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that government failed the people of South Africa with the Marikana tragedy.

Ramaphosa made the comment while addressing a joint sitting in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Marikana tragedy was the darkest moment in our young democracy.”

He says it is important for the government to admit to its failures and take steps to redress them.

Ramaphosa also addressed the role he played as a Lonmin director at the time.

“Notwithstanding the findings of the Farlam commission on my responsibility for the events that unfolded, I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana.”

He says the government is making progress in talks with the legal representatives of families who lost loved ones, adding this must be concluded in the coming months.

Thirty-four mineworkers were gunned down by police during an unprotected strike more than five years ago in Marikana.

Ramaphosa has also applauded the way Members of Parliament (MPs) have conducted themselves in debating the State of the Nation Address.

The president says the dignity of the House has been restored.

“What I’m most appreciative of... is the decorum in which the debate was conducted and the respect that was shown, not so much to me but by the members towards each other.”

He says many people joined him on his walk in Athlone on Tuesday morning.

He’s used the words of the late Hugh Masekela to describe the experience.

“As I’ve met people on the walkway, they’ve said: Mr President, send us... send me. That has encouraged me.”

The president says he wants to build consensus and partnerships in rebuilding the economy, creating jobs and bringing about the transformation that's needed in this country.

“I would like to have the best companies in the country, continent and the world to make commitments on investments that are going to create jobs for our people.”

While addressing a joint sitting in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Ramaphosa also referred to the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

“Alongside Marikana, the Life Esidimeni tragedy stands out as an instance of the most appalling dereliction by the state of its duty to its people. We welcome the arbitration process led by [retired] Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and are determined that we should never allow anything like this to happen again in our country.”

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