Day of Reconciliation: Despite year of unity, race relations remain fragile - President Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)
  • Race relations continue to be fragile, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a national address.
  • He added that poverty and inequality remained the biggest barriers to building a caring society.
  • The president also encouraged South Africans to continue to stand united in the face of the global pandemic.

Despite the headway made in addressing racism, deep and persistent challenges remain, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his national address marking the 25th national Day of Reconciliation.

Ramaphosa referenced racist incidents in Eldorado Park and Brackenfell, saying these indicated that the "state of race relations in our nation remains fragile".

"For many, reconciliation is something they have yet to experience," he said.

Ramaphosa said some of the biggest challenges facing the country remained poverty and inequality. He called on public officials to "rededicate [themselves] to the service of the people", condemning those who misused resources intended for the poor.

To address poverty and inequality, businesses needed to support policies of redress, by having inclusive hiring policies, investing in communities and up-skilling their workforce, as well as making opportunities available to youth and women, Ramaphosa said. He also called on farming organisations and land owners to support land reform policies to allow for redress.

"We must ask what we can each do, what we can and indeed must do, to advance social justice, solidarity and human rights in all facets of our lives," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa also spoke out against gender-based violence.

He said:

As men, we must be integrally involved in this struggle because it is men who are the perpetrators. We should be ashamed that women and children are uncomfortable in the company of unfamiliar men, are scared of being followed home by men... It is not women and girls who must change their behaviour, but men.

However, Ramaphosa added that the Covid-19 pandemic had seen South Africans unite to support those in need, through donations to the Solidarity Fund and food parcels, as well as supporting pupils with their studies.

"This year has been one of the most challenging our democracy has faced... The global pandemic has brought great hardship and untold suffering to many of our people... Not since democracy in 1994 have we stood together, bound by empathy, compassion and shared humanity," he said.

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