Ramaphosa: We owe it to Mandela's legacy to remain steadfast in face of attacks

African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa said it was now clear that last week's looting and destruction of property was a deliberate coordinated and well-planned attack on the economy and people's livelihood.

FILE: ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africans owed it to the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela to remain firm in the face of what he called "a planned, coordinated attack on the South African nation".

The country has been hit by widespread looting, violence and destruction of property in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng over the past week and claimed the lives of at least 212 people. Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address at a lecture on Madiba’s legacy on Sunday night.

Ramaphosa said that it was now clear that last week's looting and destruction of property was a deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on the economy and people's livelihood.

He said at this time when the country was under attack, the late President Nelson Mandela would have spoken out.

“He would encourage us never to give up or even to despair, and it's important that we should take that message to be able to guide us along the path of some of the challenges that we face,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that the country should honour Madiba by rebuilding the economy.

“We owe it to the legacy of President Mandela and all our brave forebears who sacrificed so much of our freedom to remain steadfast,” Ramaphosa said.

The lecture was attended by other ANC top six members including deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, and NEC member Thulas Nxesi.

ANC UNITY

Ramaphosa also used his Mandela Day message to speak about unity in the party.

He said that there had been several attempts to divide the ANC, with the latest being last week's deadly violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Ramaphosa said that unity within the party was as important as strengthening the state.

"And one of the greatest tributes we can pay Madiba is to united and renew this organisation that a number you, as panelists, spoke about," Ramaphosa said.

SLOW GOVERMENT RESPONSE

During an earlier visit to Soweto, one of the hardest-hit areas, on Sunday Ramaphosa admitted that if government had responded timeously to the wave of looting and violence that stunned the country, the damage would have been averted.

Questions have been raised over how the various security agencies were caught off guard when the civil unrest exploded earlier this month.

"We did not respond in time in the way that we should have. If we had, the devastation may not have taken place," the ANC president said.

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