Home Opinion and Features Inequality remains obstacle to reconciliation, says Ramaphosa

Inequality remains obstacle to reconciliation, says Ramaphosa

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The 2019 SA Reconciliation Barometer survey conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation showed that 77.1% agreed that South Africa still needed reconciliation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

CAPE TOWN – President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is important to deal decisively with the obstacles to reconciliation, among them the high levels of inequality in the country and the persistence of racist attitudes and practices.

Writing in his weekly newsletter, he said it was, however, equally important to acknowledge just how vastly different the country was today to what it had been 26 years ago.

“For every negative story of racism that makes the news, there are countless other positive stories of racial integration, communities living in harmony and social cohesion that do not generate headlines,” he wrote.

Ahead of Reconciliation Day, several organisations said the coronavirus and resultant lockdown had reaffirmed the roles of the privileged as the giver and the underprivileged as the receiver.

Turquoise Harmony Institute regional director Aydin Inal said people may think giving should be applauded, but as long as the roles do not change, the unexpressed inner resentment may grow.

The 2019 SA Reconciliation Barometer survey conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation showed 77.1% agreed that South Africa still needed reconciliation, while just over half – 56.9% of the population – agreed that South Africans had made progress concerning reconciliation since the end of apartheid.

Stellenbosch University sociology and anthropology researcher Efua Prah said in policy much had been overhauled and many of the repressive laws had been redressed, but in practice and the lived-experience for the majority, life had been augmented only in the slightest of ways.

“There have been marginal gains in state housing provision, basic income grants, health care and education. However, these gains are not as substantial as one would have estimated at the dawning of a democratic South Africa.

“This has meant that reconciliation for different racial categories has been tiered and jagged, especially along racial lines. The unequal economic clustering of low- and high-income population groups established during apartheid has remained. Thus any effort at meaningful reconciliation becomes stifled,” she said.

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