‘New dawn’ can succeed if we all play our part
President Cyril Ramaphosa took his oath of office last Saturday in front of thousands of people, including foreign dignitaries. In his inauguration speech, he made no bones about the fact that “as a nation we can no longer abide the grave disparities of wealth and opportunity that have defined our past, and which threaten to imperil our future”. That is a far-reaching statement.
Indeed, Mr President, we are the most unequal society in the world. Our Gini index score is 63 on a scale between 0 and 100, where 0 indicates perfect equality.
In another indicator of our inequality, on Tuesday StatsSA released its general household survey for 2018, which showed that the Eastern Cape has the highest dependence on social grants in the country, sitting at 35% of the province’s population. Only Gauteng and the Western Cape have more than two-thirds of their households dependent on salaries as their main source of income. Nationally, unemployment figures stood at 27.6% in the first quarter of this year. This is the context in which we waited with bated breath on Wednesday evening for Ramaphosa to announce the team that will help him craft his “new dawn”.
“So help me God,” the appointed cabinet members declared as they took oath of office on Thursday.
While some questionable characters still found their way into the cabinet, it is our hope they will find it within their hearts to serve the nation instead of being ohlohla esakhe (self-serving individuals). It is time to craft some new pro-poor policies – and implement them.
However, the government alone can’t reverse poverty and inequality. It would take a collective of all stakeholders, including you, to remove it.
The rich and the business community, having come to the party, must now get ready to share their cake. This is not a call for handouts.
It is a call to invest in the economy and create jobs, and to fight the temptation of corruption.
Let it be our collective vision to build a society that knows neither privilege nor disadvantage.
Action is what the president has called for, and action is what we all need to take. If we don’t, this ticking time bomb of misery, hunger, disappointment and frustration will explode one day, and it will be too late to say it need not have done so.
If we don’t, this ticking time bomb of misery, hunger and frustration will explode one day and it will be too late