MIL-OSI Africa: Pandemic, state capture were grave crises in our national life – President Ramaphosa

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Source: South Africa News Agency

With the remaining COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the responsibility for preventing a resurgence of the disease now rests with each of us, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking in his weekly newsletter to the nation, President Ramaphosa said that this requires that everyone act sensibly, understand the risks and do what they can to minimise them.

Last week, Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, lifted the remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including limitations on gatherings, international travel and the wearing of masks in public.

The decision to lift the restrictions was made in the light of a decline in daily cases, hospitalisations and reported deaths.

“For the first time in over two years, the country does not have any COVID restrictions in place. In my first televised address to the nation on 15 March 2020, I said that we would overcome the deadly pandemic in our midst. I said that we would act decisively and that we would act together.

“In the many difficult months that followed, my faith in the resilience and strength of the people of South Africa, and their ability to come together in times of crisis was reaffirmed, time and again,” the President said on Monday.

While there was not much fanfare about the lifting of the last COVID-19 restrictions, the President said that there has been a tectonic shift in the national psyche.

He said that the country is emerging from a great national trauma that caused untold damage, destruction and heartbreak.

“And while the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not over, and vigilance and the utmost caution is demanded of us all, there is a clear sense that we have endured,” he said.

The President lauded the health care system for surviving the pandemic where many thought it would crumble. The system served the nation well by providing care, saving lives and vaccinating millions.

“We owe an eternal debt to the courage and dedication of the health workers and many other people on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“The heroism of every South African has enabled us to weather the storm. And it is the same resilience and fortitude that will enable us to forge ahead with the difficult task of reconstruction and recovery,” he said.

State Capture

The President has praised the activism of South Africans from all walks of life who made submissions and gave evidence, who acted as whistle-blowers and who uncovered and reported on wrongdoing for enabling the State Capture Commission to conduct its work.

In the same week as the restrictions were lifted, the work of the State Capture Commission drew to a close, and its final report was handed over to the President at the Union Buildings.

“Just as our health care and other frontline personnel are lauded for their bravery, all who were instrumental in shining a light on the corrupt activities eating away at the heart of the state are to be commended for their heroism and patriotism.

“Realising a South Africa of full freedom, equality, peace and common prosperity demands that we each play our part.

“Having now known what happened and who was involved, our work begins in earnest. We must ensure there is redress, justice and accountability, and that such a shameful period never happens again,” the President said.

He said that the state capture era was a different kind of national trauma whose damage extended beyond the ransacking of the public purse, the attempted destruction of public institutions and the grand corruption that robbed South African people of what was rightfully theirs.

The President added that state capture was also a betrayal of the values of the Constitution, and of the principles upon which our democracy was founded.

“The immoral, unethical and criminal behaviour of self-serving individuals in positions of authority undermined the confidence of the people in the leaders and institutions that are meant to serve them. This has created a trust gap that will take some time to close.

“But as has been the case with the pandemic, the people of South Africa have rallied together to wage war against graft and corruption,” he said.

Though they are unrelated, the President said that the pandemic and state capture were grave crises in  the country’s national life.

‘Yet in crisis lies opportunity. We should emerge from these experiences more determined and better equipped to rebuild anew.

“We now have an opportunity to make a decisive break with the excesses of the past by building a society free of corruption and a state rooted in ethics, professionalism and capability that truly serves the South African people,” he said.

The President said that the country also has an opportunity to reconstruct a society that is more inclusive, more humane, founded in equal opportunity for all, and that protects the most vulnerable.

“As much as we did not take to the streets and celebrate last week, it was a momentous few days for our nation. It should remind us of how far we have come and that we need to continue to act and work together if we are to realise the better future that we all seek,” said President Ramaphosa. –SAnews.gov.za

MIL OSI Africa