South Africa, Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa says true reconciliation cannot be achieved while women continue to live in fear because of gender-based violence. Ramaphosa said it was not up to women, but men to ensure that violence against women and children is rejected.
“We must reject all forms of sexism, chauvinism and patriarchy. As men we must be integrally involved in this struggle, because it is men who are the perpetrators.
“We should be ashamed that women and children are afraid of being in the company of unfamiliar men; of being followed home by men; and of being beaten up, harassed, abused, raped or killed by men,” Ramaphosa said.
The president was speaking at a virtual commemoration event for the Day of Reconciliation on Wednesday.
He said the country has battled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impact.
Ramaphosa said race relations in the country were also a source of concern, citing various incidents.
The president cited incidents of racial tension in Senekal in the Free State where white farmers were seen clashing with EFF supporters. He also cited the Brackenfell High School incident in the Western Cape where white people were seen attacking EFF supporters.
He said these incidents show 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.
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.
Ramaphosa also called on his fellow politicians to do more and hold themselves accountable in their actions and delivering on promises made.