President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED

While SA has made progress under difficult conditions, it still has many mountains to climb and many treacherous rivers to cross, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his New Year’s message to the nation.

He expressed confidence, however, that the country has the means and determination to overcome the enormous challenges confronting it.

Reflecting on the year gone by, the president said 2019 was filled with both highs and lows. Great progress had been made but also several setbacks were experienced.

Despite the difficulties of the past year, the creation of a better life for all in terms of quality healthcare, land redistribution and free higher education is underway. Progress is also being made in achieving the targeted R1.2-trillion in new investment that will drive the country’s economic renewal.

“Steadily, we are rebuilding the public institutions that are so vital to our democracy, restoring our law enforcement agencies, and taking forward the fight against state capture and corruption,” Ramaphosa said.

The peaceful May general election had demonstrated that SA is a robust and vibrant democracy and was a recommitment to “build a new society founded on the will of the people, in which all South Africans — black and white — truly belong.

“And yet, for many South Africans, the hardships endure. While our economy created jobs, these have not been nearly enough to stop the rise in unemployment or the deepening of poverty. Many South Africans’ lives have changed for the better, but many others are yet to feel the benefits of the economic reforms and new investment,” Ramaphosa said.

“This has also been a year in which we have had to confront the darkest forces of our nature. As a nation, we have witnessed the brutality perpetrated by men against women and against children. We have seen lives, both young and old, ended with brutal violence. We have seen fear in our homes, schools and streets.

“Yet, as a nation, we have stood as one in our determination to end the crimes perpetrated by those men who have no respect for the lives, the rights or the dignity of women and children. An outpouring of grief and anger has incited the nation to action, to undertake an emergency response plan that will turn the tide on this national shame.”

The president noted that from January, SA will assume the chair of the African Union and will work with other countries on the continent to realise the ambition of an Africa free-trade area.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za