Ramaphosa encourages SA to use pandemic to build an equal society

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This year’s Freedom Day is a far cry from the usual celebrations, with 27 April 2020 having to be commemorated during a Covid-19 level 5 lockdown. 

As such, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation via media broadcasting channels to host Freedom Day virtually. 

Freedom for some is freedom for none, Ramaphosa emphasised in his Freedom Day address. 

The address reiterated how South Africa is still stalked by poverty and inequality, and that despite 26 years of democracy, the circumstances of one’s birth still largely determines how citizens live, where they study and work, and how they are cared for when they are ill. 

Ramaphosa said this was “the greatest form of injustice”, and a stain on the country’s national conscience. 

He acknowledged that the country is now in its final decade of the national development plan, and that transformation efforts need to be ramped up to be able to build a more equal society. 

The Covid-19 pandemic forced South Africa to confront its existing challenges of poverty, unemployment and hunger. 

And despite all citizens “braving the same tide”, not everyone has been impacted in the same way, Ramaphosa lamented. 

However, the pandemic is an opportunity for us to “learn about our very nationhood,” and that South Africa now has an opportunity to turn the current crisis into opportunity.

This, he said, could be achieved by investing in a new society, economy and consciousness, in which the privileged cannot ignore the plight of the poor, and a fair and just country be built. 

The pandemic could derail efforts before lockdown to fix the economy and unemployment, Ramaphosa warned, which could mean a setback of many years. This while a contracting economy, crime and corruption are also dealt with. 

However, Ramaphosa sought to remind citizens that “we have known far worse, and we have prevailed.”

He implored people to use the Covid-19 crisis to “reaffirm our resolve to fundamentally change our society and how it functions.”

“Let us emerge a better, more equal society.”

He concluded by vowing that by next year, South Africa will once again celebrate Freedom Day together, thanks to “our determination, courage and actions.” 

Nica Richards/The Citizen