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Ramaphosa: We must address SA’s many social ills to achieve true reconciliation

‘Much as we continue to actively work to overcome the divisions in our society, deep and persistent challenges remain,’ President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday in his Reconciliation Day speech.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa interacting with communities across the nation through a virtual Presidential Imbizo on coronavirus. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said if corruption continued to steal resources meant for the benefit of the people, the country would never attain reconciliation.

“We cannot build a society that enables the individual to better their life and realise their potential when resources meant for the benefit of the people are stolen by those who claim to be public servants,” Ramaphosa said.

The president made the remarks during his virtual message to commemorate Reconciliation Day.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa acknowledges race relations in SA remain fragile

“Much as we continue to actively work to overcome the divisions in our society, deep and persistent challenges remain,” Ramaphosa said. “We have seen racial tensions flare up in several parts of our country, polarising communities, and opening old wounds.”

Ramaphosa said what South Africans had seen in places including Senekal, Free State, showed that while the work of overcoming divisions continued, old wounds remained, and reconciliation was yet to be achieved.

“What we have seen in Senekal in the Free State, in Eldorado Park in Gauteng, and in Brackenfell in Cape Town shows that the state of race relations in our country remains fragile,” he said.

WATCH: Senekal, Eldorado Park, Brackenfell: Reconciliation is something many have yet to experience

Ramaphosa paid tribute to the global Black Lives Matter movement, saying he hoped the activism would forever change attitudes that had sustained racism in the world.

“As South Africans we have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, having experienced one of the world’s most brutal forms of institutionalised racism, and fully aware that racism continues in our country in various different forms,” Ramaphosa said.

But the president said in South Africa true reconciliation would happen when poverty, deprivation, and corruption are addressed.

“True reconciliation will not be possible unless we address the many ills in our society,” he said. “We cannot build a truly caring society so long as the country’s majority live in conditions of poverty, inequality and deprivation, while a minority exists in comfort and privilege,” Ramaphosa said.

He added: “We cannot move forward with the process of meaningful reconciliation if policies around economic transformation, affirmative action and land reform are resisted.”

Ramaphosa said it was not enough to commit to social cohesion and nation-building, and that all citizens had a responsibility to make that a reality.

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