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By Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist


SA will celebrate 30 years of freedom from apartheid in 2024, Ramaphosa reminds us

In his New Year message to the nation, the president reminded us that we have come a long way since 1994 but still have a long way to go.


From celebrating a milestone in the nation’s historical resilience to addressing poverty, corruption, the war in Palestine and climate change, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2024 New Year‘s message to the nation focused on the challenges and triumphs of this past year.

Addressing fellow South Africans, the President acknowledged the difficulties faced by many citizens but emphasised the country’s ability to overcome adversity.

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President Ramaphosa began by acknowledging the hardships faced by South Africans throughout the year, expressing empathy for those who have struggled.

Positive outlook

Despite the challenges, he maintained a positive outlook, highlighting the nation’s historical resilience in the face of adversity.

The President also drew attention to the upcoming milestone of 30 years since the attainment of freedom after apartheid, underscoring the significant progress the country has achieved since then. He referenced the Census 2022 findings, revealing improvements in housing, electricity access, and education, emphasising the nation’s commitment to dignity for all citizens.

Touching on the persisting challenges such as unemployment, poverty, crime, gender-based violence, rising food prices, and electricity shortages, President Ramaphosa assured the nation of the government’s dedication to addressing these issues. He outlined ongoing efforts to rebuild the economy post-COVID-19, citing a resilient economy that has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and a decline in the severity of load shedding.

The National Health Insurance Bill

The President celebrated the success of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which he said is providing opportunities to over 1.2 million unemployed South Africans. He also highlighted legislative achievements, including the passage of the National Health Insurance Bill.

Addressing corruption, President Ramaphosa spoke of progress in the fight against corruption and the establishment of measures to prevent future instances.

“We are making progress in the fight against corruption, including bringing those responsible for state capture to justice. We are putting in place laws, institutions and practices that reduce the potential for corruption,” he said.

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He commended the South African Police Service for their efforts in tackling organised and violent crime, underscoring the importance of community safety.

Climate change and the conflict in the Middle East

Internationally, the President reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to global issues such as climate change and peace-building. He expressed concern over the conflict in the Middle East and called for an immediate ceasefire, emphasising South Africa’s principled stance against oppression.

President Ramaphosa paid tribute to the resilience and courage of the South African people, acknowledging the unsung heroes across various sectors. He praised the nation’s sports achievements, including the Springboks’ fourth Rugby World Cup victory and the inspiring performances of Special Olympians.

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In closing, President Ramaphosa honoured those who lost their lives in the past year, expressing condolences for various tragedies, including natural disasters and the recent passing of creative icon Mbongeni Ngema. Quoting Ngema, he urged the nation to embrace unity and love for the country as the keys to future peace and prosperity.

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