President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to develop a national response to address all the weaknesses, that the expert panel appointed to review the country’s response to the July Unrest have identified.
This came out during his State of the Nation Address at the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday night.
President @CyrilRamaphosa, Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), observing the National Guard of Honour, the fly-pass of the SANDF’s Hawk Mk 120 jets and the 21 Gun Salute, as part of the SoNA 2022 ceremonial proceedings.#SONA2022 pic.twitter.com/VlVpQIWmit
— Presidency | South Africa ?? (@PresidencyZA) February 10, 2022
Following the violent looting of public property and destruction of businesses which saw over 350 people dead and over R50 billion lost to the economy in July last year,
Ramaphosa announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to look into the country’s response to the unrest.
The panel found among others that Cabinet must take full responsibility for the violence. Ramaphosa says they take the blame and will make necessary changes.
He says, “Earlier this week, we released the report of the expert panel into the civil unrest in July last year. The report paints a deeply disturbing picture of the capabilities of our security services and the structures that exist to coordinate their work. The report concludes that government’s initial handling of the July 2021 events was inept, police operational planning was poor, there was poor coordination between the state security and intelligence services, and police are not always embedded in the communities they serve.”
Ramaphosa says the expert panel said that if the violence has exposed anything it was the poverty and inequality that is the root cause of the desperation of the people of South Africa
He says, “The expert panel found that Cabinet must take overall responsibility for the events of July 2021. This is a responsibility that we acknowledge and accept. We will, as recommended by the panel, develop and drive a national response plan to address the weaknesses that the panel has identified. We will begin immediately by filling critical vacancies and addressing positions affected by suspensions in the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence.”
Ramaphosa announced that they will soon be announcing leadership changes in a number of security agencies to strengthen our security structures.
“The staffing of the public order policing unit of the South African Police Service will be brought to an appropriate level, with appropriate training courses in place. The ongoing damage to and theft of economic infrastructure has damaged confidence and severely constrained economic growth, investment and job creation. At the same time, we need to confront the criminal gangs that invade construction sites and other business places to extort money from companies. This requires a focused and coordinated response.”
Ramaphosa delivered SONA, with the acknowledgement of the fire that gutted parts of Parliament last month.
For the first time in history, the SONA was delivered in the Cape Town City Hall.
He says the fire was symbolic to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa says, “What happened in Parliament speaks to a much broader devastation in our land. For many the fire was symbolic of the devastation caused by COVID-19, by rising unemployment and deepening poverty in our country. It spoke to the devastation of the pandemic that over the past two years has taken the lives of tens of thousands of South Africans, put 2 million people out of work and brought misery to many families in our country.”
Ramaphosa says South Africa needs a new consensus to fight the triple challenge of deep poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Currently South Africa is the most unequal society in the world with the highest unemployment rate which now stands at almost 35%.
The country has also experienced a sluggish economy compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa says both government, business, labour and civil society are working together to develop this national consensus within 100 days.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech: