President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the Marikana tragedy as the darkest moment in South Africa’s young democracy. He was speaking in his reply to the Joint State of the Nation Address Debate. Ramaphosa says he is willing to play a healing role in Marikana. Thirty-four Lonmin striking mine workers were shot and killed at the hands of police in August 2012.

Ten other people, including police and security officers, were also killed in the preceding week.

“And I would like to use this opportunity to address what role I played in my capacity as a director in the events of that tragic week. Notwithstanding  the findings of the Farlam Commission for my responsibility for the events that unfolded, I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of  healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana. In this I am guided by the needs and the wishes of the families of the 44 workers who lost their lives, their families both in the North West province but their families also where they come from,” says the President.

Ramaphosa has praised Members of Parliament for the way they conducted the Joint State of the Nation Address debate on Monday.

“What emerged clearly from the debate yesterday (Monday) is that all Members of Parliament are committed to build a nation where progress is measured not by growth in GDP or global competitive rankings but by how the lives of the most vulnerable of South Africans, the lives of the most marginalised South Africans can change for the better. That is what they are measuring.”

Ramaphosa says he is committed to engaging with all political parties in the interest of advancing the country, regardless of political differences. He says he has been encouraged by people from all walks of life, who have engaged with him following his SONA.

“When I addressed this Parliament after my election I said I will also be reaching out to all parties that are represented here with a view of finding a way in which we can work together. Yes we will differ, Mr Maimane, on a whole number of things. We will differ, Reverend Meshoe, on a whole number of things. We will differ, Mr Malema, on a whole number of things but one thing that we will unite on is advancing the interests of our people. That is what has brought us here.”

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