True reconciliation to remain out of our reach until SA addresses the many social ills: Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says true reconciliation can only be achieved if the country addresses the many challenges facing ordinary South Africans. He was virtually delivering his annual National Reconciliation Day message in view of the COVID-19 restrictions.

This year’s celebrations were marked under the theme United Against Racism, Gender-Based Violence and Other Intolerances. In his address, President Ramaphosa said the National Reconciliation Day reminds South Africans of both their historical injustices and a need for their collective responsibility to build a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.


And as for South Africa, a country still racially polarised with the Senekal, Brackenfell and Eldorado Parks protests still fresh in mind and with poverty still having a black face, President Ramaphosa said if all these are not addressed, true reconciliation will remain a distant dream.

“True reconciliation will not be possible unless we address the many ills in our society. We cannot build a truly caring society so long as the country’s majority live in conditions of poverty, inequality, and deprivation, while a minority exists in comfort and privilege. We cannot move forward with the process of meaningful reconciliation if policies around economic transformation, affirmative action and land reform are resisted. So long as we do not overcome poverty, inequality, and underdevelopment that affect this country’s majority, reconciliation will forever remain out of our reach.”

The President said achieving a truly reconciled nation is a collective responsibility with business also playing its part.

“It is up to all social partners to drive the change we need and want to see in this country. In order for us to address poverty and inequality, businesses must support policies of redress. Our businesses must reflect their support for transformation through hiring practices, incapacitating and skilling staff, and in investing in the communities in which they operate.” President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the Reconciliation Day speech: 


He also used the occasion to denounce the prevalence of Gender-Based Violence in the country. “We cannot achieve reconciliation for as long as the women of our country – who constitute half of our population – live in fear of Gender-Based Violence. We must stand firm in our rejection of all forms of violence against women and children. We must reject all forms of sexism, chauvinism, and patriarchy. It is not women and girls who must change their behaviour. It is men who must change.”

GBV stats in SA:


But the President said it’s not doom and gloom. “We have come from a bitter past. But we must not let the divisions of the past define us. We cannot diminish our past, nor can we forget it. But we look to the future with optimism and hope, for it is the future that matters most. Let us move forward together, for South Africa as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. May God bless South Africa and protect her people.”