President Cyril Ramaphosa has said reconciliation is not just about social cohesion, but also about achieving economic transformation.
Ramaphosa made the comment in his weekly newsletter to the nation on Friday which largely focused on Reconciliation Day.
He cited the recently published SA Reconciliation Barometer Survey 2019, which found that although most South Africans want reconciliation, “just over a half of respondents believe that South Africa has made progress with reconciliation since 1994.”
Obstacles to reconciliation
The survey’s respondents cited corruption, the fact that those affected by apartheid continue to be poor, gender-based violence, and political parties that sow divisions as obstacles to reconciliation.
Ramaphosa wrote, “This confirms that true reconciliation is not only about social cohesion. It is also about political and economic transformation.”
He said the country must therefore address the “unfinished business of our democratic transition,” such as inequality, land reform, workplace transformation, and restructuring the economy.
He added, “In this sense, reconciliation is a very practical undertaking. It is about the work that needs to be done to unlock investment in our economy, to reduce the cost of doing business and to promote growth.
“It is about the urgent measures we need to take to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to homes and businesses. It is about ensuring that our scarce water resources are preserved and equally available to all.”
‘Bigotry and racism no longer define us’
Nevertheless, Ramaphosa said South Africa has “much to be proud of” with regard to healing the “divisions of the past.”
Among other examples, he cited the outpouring of pride after the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup and Zozibini Tunzi clinched the Miss World title recently.
The President said, “Racism and bigotry no longer define our nation. Where they do occur, they are isolated. Where there have been manifestations of intolerance, we have been able to unite behind the values of tolerance and respect for diversity that define our Bill of Rights.”
Ramaphosa urged South Africans to focus on what unites them instead of what divides them.
He wrote, “Let us make a concerted effort to move forward together, focusing on what unites us instead of what divides.
“Let us reach out to each other on this day, during this Reconciliation Month, and throughout the year.”