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South Africa’s problems real but not insurmountable, says Cyril Ramaphosa in inauguration speech

Through the irrefutable power of the ballot on May 8, South Africans declared the dawn of a new era.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday urged all South Africans to work together to renew the country and build a better future for all, saying that the problems South Africa faces are real, but not insurmountable.

In the 25 years of South Africa’s democratic dispensation, the country had known both seasons of plenty and times of scarcity, Ramaphosa told heads of state, other dignitaries, and thousands of members of the public shortly after he took the oath of office at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria.

South Africans had felt the warm embrace of liberty, rejoiced at the affirmation of their essential and equal humanity. They had found shelter and sustenance, opportunity and purpose. As the shackles of oppression had fallen away, they had felt their horizons widen and their lives improve in a myriad of ways, he said.

But they had also known moments of doubt, felt the cold shadow of a past so cruel and iniquitous that it had at times threatened to eclipse the very achievement of their hard-won freedom. Despite the most earnest efforts, many South Africans still went to bed hungry, many succumbed to diseases that could be treated, many lived lives of intolerable deprivation.

“In recent times, our people have watched as some of those in whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation of power and riches. They have seen some of the very institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered.

“The challenges that we face are real. But they are not insurmountable. They can be solved. And we are going to solve them. In the face of all these challenges our people have remained resolute, resilient, unwavering in their desire for a better South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Through the irrefutable power of the ballot on May 8, South Africans declared the dawn of a new era. They had chosen hope over hopelessness and opted for unity over conflict and divisions. “As we give effect to their mandate, we draw comfort from the knowledge that that which unites us is far, far more powerful and enduring than that which divides us.

“Despite our differences, despite a past of conflict and division and bitterness, despite the fierce political contestation among 48 political parties in recent months, we share the same hopes and fears, the same anxieties and aspirations. We all want our children to have lives that are better than our own, to have work that is dignified and rewarding.

“We are bound together by our determination that never again shall the adversities of our past be visited on the people of this land. This is a defining moment for our young nation. Today is the choice of history. It is a time for us to make the future we yearn for. It is through our actions now that we will determine our destiny. South Africans want action and not just words and promises. And there will be action,” Ramaphosa said.

As a nation, South Africans could therefore no longer abide the grave disparities of wealth and opportunity that had defined the past and which threatened to imperil the future.

“It is our shared will, and our shared responsibility, to build a society that knows neither privilege nor disadvantage… a society where those who have much are willing to share with those who have little… where every person, regardless of race or sex or circumstance, may experience the fundamental necessities of a decent, dignified life. Today, let us declare before the esteemed witnesses gathered here that such a South Africa is possible,” he said.

“Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation. Let us, as we embark on this new era, mobilise our every resource and summon our every capability to realise the vision of our founding mothers and fathers. Let us forge a compact, not merely as business and labour, not as those who govern and those who are governed, but as citizens and patriots of this great nation, free and equal and resolute.

“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunity, for productive lands and viable communities, for knowledge, for innovation, and for services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable. Let us forge a compact for an efficient, capable and ethical state, a state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.

“We must be a society that values excellence, rewards effort and hard work, and rejects mediocrity. We must be a society that values its young people by creating a conducive environment for them to gain skills and be productively employed to develop our country,” he said.

Ramaphosa’s inauguration coincided with Africa Day, and he used the opportunity to call peace on the African continent and increased trade among African nations in line with the vision of the African Union.

“Today, we reaffirm our determination to work with our sisters and brothers across the continent to realise the African Union’s vision of Agenda 2063. To build the Africa that we all Africans want. To forge a free trade area that stretches from Cape Town to Cairo, bringing growth and opportunity to all African countries. To silence the guns and let peace and harmony reign,” Ramaphosa said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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