SA is a much better place today for all our people – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that detractors would seek to diminish the country’s achievements since democracy in 1994 under the ANC government. 

Ramaphosa defended the governing party’s record in government during Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria yesterday, seemingly aiming to boost the ANC’s electoral prospects in the upcoming May 29 general elections. 

The president said South Africa’s democracy had made significant progress in the past 30 years, establishing a society based on the rule of law and equality. 

“We must never let our spirits be dampened by detractors, whether they are abroad or in our own country, who want to diminish what we achieved in 1994 and in the years that have followed,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said the progress made in a relatively short period of 30 years was something which all citizens could and should be proud of. 

“It is only those who wilfully will not see, who shut their eyes to progress, who will deny that South Africa today is an infinitely better place than it was thirty years ago.” 

Ramaphosa said that over the past 30 years, the government had sought to implement policies and programmes that advanced equality and human dignity in areas like economic empowerment, education, health care, social support and basic services. 

“Our task over the last 30 years has been to bridge the huge divides of wealth and opportunity in our country – between black and white, between men and women, between urban and rural dwellers,” he said. 

Although there had been setbacks and challenges beyond the borders and at home, he said the economy had tripled in size since 1994. “While unemployment still remains our greatest and most pressing challenge, the number of South Africans in employment has increased from 8-million in 1994 to over 16.7-million now.” 

Ramaphosa said through affirmative action, broad-based black economic empowerment, worker share ownership programmes and progressive labour laws, the government had brought about transformative change in South Africa’s boardrooms, workplaces and on the shop floor. 

The president said that in South Africa today, more than half a million workers were part-owners of the companies they worked for, which was about one in every 20 workers in the formal and private sectors. 

“The proportion of black people in senior management positions in both government and business has increased many times over. We still have a long way to go before we can declare that all South Africans do indeed share in the wealth of the country. But we have made much progress.”  

He said the country’s social development system benefited all and provided vital support to the poor and vulnerable, including women and children. 

“The democratic state has, through its health care programmes, brought down child mortality, improved life expectancy, and made important strides towards overcoming the HIV/AIDS pandemic. 

“Working together, we have opened the doors of learning and culture. We have invested in improving and building new schools, colleges, and two new universities. We have vastly increased the number of matriculants, graduates, and young, skilled people.” 

However, Ramaphosa said that additional efforts were necessary to guarantee that poverty did not impede access to a quality education. “We have introduced no-fee schools and the school feeding programme. We have expanded funding for students from poor and working-class families and are now focused on early childhood development,” he said. 

He said that for those born after 1994, the impact and meaning of democracy were different from those who lived during apartheid. “We believe in a better tomorrow, and it is within our hands to shape our collective destiny. 

“It is in our hands to rebuild South Africa and make it a place of equal opportunity and shared prosperity, where no one is left behind,” he said. 

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News