Heal rifts to realise OR Tambo’s dream – Ramaphosa

2014-10-24 16:07

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South Africa remains a divided society 20 years into democracy, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa was today delivering the Oliver Reginald Tambo memorial lecture at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape.

OR Tambo was the longest-serving president of the ANC.

Ramaphosa said the country remained divided along lines of race, gender and class.

“We find divisions between rural and urban, between those who are employed and those who are unemployed. There are divisions between the left and the right and those who present themselves as being more left than the left itself,” he said.

There are also divisions within the ANC, where the politics of power, patronage and personal advancement has “steadily eroded our organisation”.

Ramaphosa said these divisions made it difficult to achieve the truly free, nonracial and democratic South Africa that OR Tambo had hoped for.

“Now more than ever we are called upon to heal these divisions and confront them with a view of finding a consensus.”

The deputy president paid a glowing tribute to Tambo, saying he possessed an intellectual honesty that was lacking today and would tell no lies or claim any easy victories as leader of the movement.

Ramaphosa, who had just returned from a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) mission in Lesotho, where he is leading efforts to end conflicts in that country, said Tambo would have wanted a united and democratic Lesotho.

“OR Tambo was a unifier. He worked hard to ensure that the people remained united during the difficult dark days of apartheid and would have wanted the same for Lesotho. That is why we will continue working with people of Lesotho to achieve that,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the University of Fort Hare, which OR Tambo attended as a student, was the home of legends because it produced many giants, such as Nelson Mandela and Chris Hani.

He encouraged students to emulate those leaders who attended the university and strive to be better than them.

Ramaphosa was flanked by Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle and other provincial leaders.

The crowd was made up of mainly students from the ANC-aligned South African Student Congress and the ANC Youth League.

The beautifully decorated hall of the university’s sports complex had many empty seats.

Earlier in the day, a small crowd of students, dressed in ANC T-shirts sang pro-OR Tambo songs as they welcomed Ramaphosa to the stage.

Meanwhile, Masualle took a swipe at those who torched an OR Tambo monument in the Nkantolo Village in Bizana this week in what is believed to have been a service delivery related incident.

While introducing Ramaphosa, Masualle said those who were dissatisfied with service delivery should not burn down things they already had to register their dissatisfaction.

“When you complain about something, you don’t destroy what you have. It’s wrong and we will attend to that. We must condemn those who burnt down the monument of our leader, OR Tambo,” he said.

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