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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘SA does not want to be treated like beggars’ − Ramaphosa

The president made the remarks following his return from a two-day global summit in Paris on financing development and climate action.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa does not want to be “treated like beggars” as the country grapples with poverty, unemployment and crime.

Ramaphosa made the remarks in his weekly newsletter “From the Desk of the President” on Monday following his return from a two-day global summit in Paris on financing development and climate action in developing economies.

International summits

The president said while international summits may seem like a world apart from the daily challenges that South Africans face such as poverty, unemployment and crime, “ they are actually closely connected”.

“While much has been achieved since the advent of democracy in our country to address the needs of the poor, this work has been undermined by slow economic growth, state capture and corruption, the electricity crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These problems are made worse by the damaging effects of climate change, which include catastrophic flooding and drought,” he said.

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Industrialised countries

Ramaphosa said South Africa and many other countries have maintained that industrialised countries have contributed most to greenhouse gas emissions.

“They have a responsibility to fund the actions that less industrialised countries need to take to protect their people from climate change.

“And since these countries have been able to develop their societies through economic activities that have caused the current climate crisis, they should also contribute to meeting global development goals such as eradicating poverty, improving health outcomes, expanding access to quality education, promoting gender equality and ensuring everyone has clean water and sanitation,” said Ramaphosa.

SA not beggar

Ramaphosa stressed that during the summit, South Africa argued for a fundamental overhaul of the international financial institutions that are responsible for supporting development across the world.

“As we said at the summit, we do not want to be treated like beggars, as if we are asking for charity. The industrialisation and economic development of the Global North was achieved at the expense of the Global South. Wealthier countries therefore have both an obligation and an interest in supporting development and climate action in poorer countries.”

Ramaphosa said with improved funding for South Africa’s just energy transition, the country will be able to invest substantially in strengthening the electricity grid and new renewable energy generation.

“This will make a significant contribution to ending load shedding and securing a reliable and affordable supply of electricity. This will, in turn, promote economic growth, make our exports more competitive and create employment.”

Development goals

Ramaphosa said South Africa will continue to work with other countries on its development goals.

“In summarising the outcomes of the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “More than ever, international solidarity and transfers from the richest countries to the most vulnerable ones are essential to shape a fairer world.

“This is a view that we share. We will continue to work with other countries across the world to ensure that it becomes a reality,” saidRamaphosa.

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