WATCH: Ramaphosa talks race, social cohesion in meeting with Hellenic, Italian, Portuguese communities

2019-03-27 10:47

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government remains concerned about growing racial tension in the country.

He made the comments during an engagement with members of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Alliance of South Africa on Tuesday evening to discuss the future direction of the country in business, politics and government.

Ramaphosa, who received a hero's welcome from the community in Ekurhuleni, was also joined by members of his Cabinet and ANC national executive committee members, with two struggle heroes, advocate George Bizos and Sophia de Bruyn, also attending the evening session.

While most of those who attended seemed to have driven straight to the venue from work, numerous people in the neighbourhood made their way to the hall, with some bringing their infants along for a chance to engage with South Africa's number one citizen.

At least 20 people posed questions to the president including some about social cohesion, Eskom, the country's economy and coalition politics.

READ: Unlocking the middle class? The ANC's suburban access conundrum

The president told those who attended the event that the apartheid system, which legalised the separation of groups according to skin colour, had created fault lines and cracks in society.

"If you don't embark on campaigns of raising awareness those fault lines open up and manifest in different ways," said Ramaphosa.

He said it would take the country a while to become the South Africa Nelson Mandela wanted and it would also take efforts from all sides to achieve this.

The president then recalled, with joy, noticing white people in the crowd during the government's Sharpeville massacre celebrations on Human Rights Day.

"I was pleasantly pleased to see in the crowd a number of people who added to the diversity of the people who were there. Yes, there were quite a number of white people and this we had not seen for a long time in our crowds when we have national events or public holidays," said the president.

While Ramaphosa urged more white people to attend government events or public holiday commemorations marking some of the country's milestones, he said there needed to be an appreciation that the journey towards complete social cohesion would be long.

In recent weeks, prospective voters, analysts and even some in the ANC have spoken about the possibility of large numbers of white people voting for the governing party because of their confidence that Ramaphosa will take the country in a better direction.

ANALYSIS: Black people will vote for the ANC while white people vote for Ramaphosa

Recently, the ANC in Gauteng said its research had shown that support for the party among white voters had increased, City Press reported.

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Read more on:    anc  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  politics

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