President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that South Africa still has a long way to go before achieving true national reconciliation despite efforts by the government to close racial gaps in the rainbow nation. Ramaphosa said this in his national address as the country marked Reconciliation Day.
“The South Africa of today still suffers from the effects of centuries of discrimination, dispossession and unequal development,” Ramaphosa said noting that though racism and bigotry no longer define South Africa, but “we still have much further to go.” Xinxua quoted the president as saying in the broadcast.
According to the South African Reconciliation Barometer Survey 2019, a vast majority of South Africans agree that the country is still far away from reconciliation despite the end of apartheid 25 years ago.
Of the respondents interviewed in the survey, just over half believe that South Africa has made progress with reconciliation since 1994 when apartheid was brought to an end.
Most of the surveyed citizens agree that reconciliation is impossible as long as corruption continues, political parties sow division, those who were affected by apartheid continue to be poor, gender-based violence remains, according to the survey, conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
This confirms that true reconciliation is not only about social cohesion but also about political and economic transformation, Ramaphosa said in response to the survey.
“Since we obtained our democracy our people have demonstrated time and again their immense capacity to look beyond superficial differences in the quest to achieve true nationhood, and with it, embrace a fuller humanity,” said Ramaphosa.
The South African leader said South Africa still has to address the unfinished task of democratic transition by closing the “festering wound of inequality.”
“We must close the festering wound of inequality that exists between our people. We must forge ahead with land reform and social development. We must continue to transform our workplaces and restructure our economy so it benefits all,” said Ramaphosa. He urged a national consensus on the issue of reconciliation.
“Reconciliation means that we should continue to use the capability of the state to improve the lives of the poor, to have a tax regime that is progressive and public finances that are responsibly managed,” Ramaphosa said.
Reconciliation Day, which came into effect in 1995, is intended to foster reconciliation, racial harmony and national unity in the country.