President Cyril Ramaphosa is on a mission to transform the country and he wants to take all South Africans with him.
When President Cyril Ramaphosa took to the podium to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SoNA) he did not only outline government’s plans to improve the lives of all South Africans, he also called on citizens to work with government to build a country of which we can be proud.
South Africans responded to his call and showed their patriotism with the message, ‘send me’.
“They are galvanised by a sense of patriotism that elevates the interests of the country above narrow, selfish interests. They are moved by a conviction that tomorrow will be better than today.
They are saying they are ready to lend a hand, to build a South Africa that benefits all of its people."
Speaking at his reply to the SoNA debate in the National Assembly, the President shared with members of Parliament his plan to take the country forward.
“I do have a plan. It’s the National Development Plan and I call for consultative processes and summits because our people want to be involved. They want to participate,” he said.
The President explained that the job summit that he spoke about in the SoNA was called for by the trade movement in South Africa.
“They represent the people and want to sit down with government, business, communities and ourselves as workers to chart a way forward to see how we can create jobs. A clever government would heed this call,” he said.
Similarly, the social sector summit announced in the SoNA aims to bring together South Africans who have the skills, experience and capabilities to address the critical challenges that beset the country.
“I am confident that we can move with urgency and purpose to forge a new social compact, to revive our economy, create jobs, reduce inequality and effect fundamental social and economic transformation.
“We want all South Africans to participate but more than this, we want all South Africans to lend a hand,” he said.
Addressing the issue of the expropriation of land without compensation, President Ramaphosa said that the taking of land from indigenous people in the country was the original sin.
“It caused divisions, hurt and pain amongst our people. There are few in our country who would contest that the dispossession of black South Africans of their land contributed fundamentally to the impoverishment and disempowerment of the majority of our people,” he said.
The expropriation of land without compensation is envisaged as one of the measures that government will use to accelerate the redistribution of land to black South Africans.
“We will need to determine, collectively, how we can implement this measure in a way that promotes agricultural production, improves food security, advances rural development, reduces poverty and strengthens our economy.”
The Marikana tragedy
Another issue raised in the SoNA debate was the Marikana tragedy during which 44 people lost their lives.
“Marikana was one of the darkest moments in our young democracy. I would like to use this opportunity to address the role that I played in my capacity as a Lonmin director in the events of that tragic week.”
“Notwithstanding the findings of the Farlam Commission on my responsibility for the events that unfolded, I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement. In this, I am guided by the needs and wishes of the families of the 44 workers who lost their lives,” said the President.
After investigations three broad areas were identified for action, namely compensation for the injured and the families of those who lost their lives, examining the procedures of public order policing and preparing valid cases for prosecution.
“Government is making progress with continuous engagement with the legal representatives of the victims, especially on matters of families who lost their loved ones. This must be concluded in the coming months,” he said.
President Ramaphosa described the economic inequality between men and women in the country as a grave injustice.
“One of the programmes where we have sought to integrate various approaches is the ‘She Conquers’ initiative, which aims to empower adolescent girls and young women to reduce HIV infections, tackle gender-based violence, keep girls in school and increase economic opportunities,” he noted.
The President also called for a united effort to tackle the chauvinism experienced by women in the workplace and other social settings.
“We must confront the social and economic factors that prevent young women from completing school, entering higher education and graduating,” he said.
Government has adopted an integrated programme of action to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children.
“With the support of communities, we aim to prevent such violence by transforming attitudes, practices and behaviours.”