President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to reaffirm his commitment and the commitment of the government he leads to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the life, the dignity and the interests of the South African people.
South Africa (14 May 2020) – While the COVID-19 pandemic has seen South Africa traverse uncharted territory, President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that government might have fallen short of citizenry expectation in its endeavour to adequately respond to the outbreak.
Addressing the nation on Wednesday on the country’s response to the pandemic, the President made an impassionate pledge to consult citizens, mobilise resources to support the vulnerable and ensure that the rights of citizens are respected and upheld.
President Ramaphosa reiterated that the measures were necessary for the country’s health and well-being.
“There may have been times when we have fallen short of your expectations. Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory, and some have been poorly explained.”
He conceded that intervention implementation has sometimes been slow, and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh.
“This evening, I want to reaffirm my commitment and the commitment of the government I lead to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the life, the dignity and the interests of the South African people. The last time I addressed you, I said that we will soon be embarking on the third phase of our economic response to the Coronavirus crisis by outlining a clear strategy for economic recovery,” he said.
The President said Cabinet is seized with this issue and will announce when the work has been completed.
He said the state is determined and committed to ensuring that all government decisions are taken in good faith, that they are reasonable and based on empirical evidence, and that they do not cause more harm than good.
The President said the government was also committing to be transparent, to take the nation into its confidence and to do so regularly.
The government will also continue to be forthright on the state of the pandemic.
“You want to know when things are bad and be told when they could get worse.
“[We are committed] to continue to engage and consult with you; to ensure that we continue to mobilise every resource at our disposal to support the most vulnerable, and to give the greatest support to those most in need; and, to make sure that the funds that are dedicated to our coronavirus response are not wasted and are not stolen.
“As your President, as this government, we are firmly committed to meeting the expectations you rightly have of us. Where we have disappointed, we will continue to make amends. Where we make mistakes, we will continue to correct them,” said the President.
Government, he said, has learnt a lot about the Coronavirus.
“Although there may have been differences and disagreements, there has also been kindness, empathy and compassion. There has been courage and solidarity. A very different South Africa and world awaits us. The greatest test will be our willingness to embrace change. Let us rise to meet this challenge. Let us stand as one family and one nation to build a new and stronger society,” he said.
He said although the coming days will be difficult, the country must draw strength from what it has achieved.
“Over the last seven weeks, you have been asked to endure much and to sacrifice much,” said the President.
On several occasions, President Ramaphosa has during the lockdown asked the public to accept stringent restrictions that has altered everyday life and brought about much inconvenience and hardship.
“You have heeded these calls, firmly convinced that these measures are necessary for the health and the well-being – indeed the survival – of our young nation. In return for everything that is being asked of you, there are a few fundamental things that you ask of us, your leaders,” he said.