AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South African not to be selfish and think only about themselves as the country rebuilds an economy battered by COVID-19.
In a keynote address to mark SA’s Human Rights Day, Ramaphosa said South Africans must think of others, not only in terms of opportunities in the economy but also in the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
On the economy he said: “We are now in the phase of reconstruction and recovery. We are working to build a new economy that promises equal opportunity for all. In doing so, let us remember that this is a struggle for all of us far greater than ourselves.
“It is not a fight not for our own piece of bread, for our own job to be saved, or for our own health and safety. It is a fight to preserve our common humanity. And it means that we must all work together, whether as government, labour, business or communities. We must rebuild a society that is far better than the one that came before it. We must become a society that is free from poverty, hunger and deprivation.”
On COVID-19 vaccines, Ramaphosa announced they would be available to every person in the country, dispelling fears that non-South Africans would be denied.
“In recognition of the severe impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods, we have implemented social and income support measures to support struggling households, workers and businesses. And in this, the next phase of our response to the pandemic, we are working to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to every person in our country,” he said.
Human Rights Day is a public holiday to commemorate the murder of 69 unarmed activists in Sharpeville 61 years ago and to celebrate the signing of SA’s constitution 25 years ago.
The 2021 commemoration also took place a year after the government declared a national state of disaster and announced the country’s first lockdown and its strict life-changing conditions.
Ramaphosa paid a tribute to the martyrs who lost their lives in Sharpeville and said they did so not only for themselves but for the liberation of all.
“Sixty-one years ago our brave forebears took up the defence of the rights of our people, in the face of a harsh, cruel and unjust system that was exploitive and oppressive. The heroes who protested at Sharpeville on the 21st of March 1960 took up the cause of liberty, freedom and human rights.
They did so not for themselves alone, but for us all. That’s why they’re our heroes and heroines. In the same way, the struggles we wage today are not for our cause alone. They are also for the men, women and children of tomorrow, so that they too may live in security, comfort, peace and freedom. In reflecting on the events at Sharpeville, we appreciate how far we have come from being a society that cares only for a few at the expense of the majority,” the President said.