President Ramaphosa calls for a new post Covid-19 society

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a new, post Covid-19 society, 'public representatives would put the interests of the people ahead of their own'.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a new, post Covid-19 society, 'public representatives would put the interests of the people ahead of their own'.
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa envisioned a new society in his Freedom Day address on Monday where no person goes to bed hungry, saying the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced SA to confront its high poverty and inequality levels.

In his online Freedom Day address, Ramaphosa said now was the time to build a fair and just country.

“In the SA that we all want, no man, no woman or child will go hungry because they will have the means to earn an income and our social assistance programmes will be matched by efforts to enable communities to grow their own food.

“In this new society, the provision of services to our people is the foremost priority of the government. The public servant understands that they are just that, a servant of their people,” said Ramaphosa. 

Ramaphosa said the pandemic had thrown into sharp focus the poverty and inequality that “still defines our society”.

“The coronavirus pandemic forces us to confront this reality. Though we are certainly all braving the same tide, we have not been impacted in the same way by this pandemic. 

“Some people have been able to endure the coronavirus lockdown in a comfortable home with a fully stocked fridge, with private medical care and online learning for their children,” said Ramaphosa. 

In contrast, he said, for millions of others “this has been a month of misery, of breadwinners not working, of families struggling to survive and of children going to bed and waking up hungry”.

He said the experience was teaching “us much more about ourselves, about our society and about our country”.

Ramaphosa said though the country had much to be proud of, the devastating legacy of our past ran so deep that the country had been found wanting in addressing the challenges.

“Poverty and inequality continues to stalk our land. A child born to parents of means has a comfortable home, is fed and sheltered, receives a good education and has good prospects for a prosperous life. For a poor child, every day of life can be a struggle for shelter, for food and for opportunity,” he said.

He said the triumph of 1994, where the country held its first democratic elections, was about much more than being able to vote. 

“It was about setting right the wrongs of the past, about redress, restitution and restoration. It was about levelling the field for the black child and the white child, and making sure they each have an equal chance in life. The promise we made on the 27th of April 1994 can no longer be deferred,” he said.

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