President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to keep their arms locked together in defence against the global Covid-19 pandemic, reminding citizens that the country has known far worse and prevailed.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation on Freedom Day, with the country spending the day, which is filled with so much historic meaning, at home under lockdown due to the coronavirus.
“As we are reminded this Freedom Day, we have known far worse and we have prevailed.
“Let us keep our arms locked together in a column of defence against this pandemic, a united people,” he said in a virtual address on Monday.
He acknowledged, though, that the lockdown is proving to be a “month of misery” for some of the population.
“Some people have been able to endure the coronavirus lockdown in a comfortable home with a fully stocked fridge, with private medical care, and online learning for their children.
“For millions of others, this has been a month of misery, of breadwinners not working, of families struggling to survive and of children going to bed and waking up hungry,” he said.
The president added that the social relief measures announced last week – which included an increase in the child grant – would narrow the gulf of inequality as it aimed to assist the vulnerable during this difficult period.
“This is the time when we should actively work to build a fair and just country.
“In the South Africa that we all want, no man, woman or child will go hungry. They will have the means to earn an income, and our social assistance programmes will be matched by efforts to enable communities to grow their own food,” he added.
The president further noted that the pandemic would set back the country’s efforts to address poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment and a weak economy.
In addition, he added that it would take a great deal of effort and resources for the society and economy to recover.
Ramaphosa further stated that, when the country does turn the tide on Covid-19, it will still be confronted with a contracting economy, unemployment, crime and corruption, a weakened State, and other pressing concerns.
“We will have to find new, exceptional and innovative ways to overcome this. It is not something government can do alone,” he said.
As a result, Ramaphosa called on citizens to band together and stand united against disease, poverty, inequality and hunger.
“We can only overcome this crisis and rebuild our shattered economy if we work together. This year, we are celebrating Freedom Day apart, each of us confined to our homes.
“Next year, through your determination, through your courage and through your actions, we will once again celebrate Freedom Day together,” he concluded.