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Ramaphosa concerned over race relations as he calls for reconciliation

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President Cyril Ramaphosa used his Day of Reconciliation speech to paint a grim picture of the challenging year the country has faced with the Covid-19 pandemic and the negative impact it has had on the economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says racial relations in the country remain in a fragile state.

The president used his Day of Reconciliation speech to paint a grim picture of the challenging year the country has faced with the Covid-19 pandemic and the negative impact it has had on the economy.

Ramaphosa was speaking on Wednesday during the government’s commemoration of the Day of Reconciliation.

He said the country has also faced a challenging year with racial tensions and incidents simmering up with different events.

The president cited incidents of racial tension in Senekal in the Free State, where white farmers clashed with EFF supporters. He also cited the Brackenfell High School incident in the Western Cape where white locals were seen attacking EFF supporters after the party protested against a matric dance event which only white pupils took part in.

He said these incidents showed that the country’s efforts towards reconciliation were far from being perfect. He said true reconciliation was not possible until issues such as inequality and poverty were addressed.

“As long as we do not overcome poverty, reconciliation will remain out of our reach,” Ramaphosa said during a virtual event.

He said the circumstances that people were living in could not be ignored and that social cohesion was not enough and that real change was needed.

The president said for reconciliation to become a reality, issues of inequality should be addressed in all areas of society such as workspaces and in public spaces.

“We must ask ourselves what we can do in our lives. We all have a responsibility to bring about economic transformation,” Rampahosa said.

“True reconciliation will not be possible unless we address the many ills in our society. We cannot build a truly caring society so long as the country’s majority live in conditions of poverty, inequality and deprivation, while a minority exists in comfort and privilege.

“We cannot move forward with the process of meaningful reconciliation if policies around economic transformation, affirmative action and land reform are resisted,“ Ramaphosa said.

The president said businesses should support redress policies as an effort to end inequality and poverty. He said there should be no resistance to polices of economic redress such as black economic empowerment.

He said the labour sector should also address the rights of workers and that farming organisations should support policies of land reform which is a crucial part of reconciliation.

Political Bureau