South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed “beneficiaries of apartheid injustices” for shying away from efforts by government to try and address the legacy of the past, including inequality.
Ramaphosa said this when he delivered the 8th Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in Cape Town on Monday, 8 October 2018 in which he reflected on the country’s project of restorative justice, 20 years after the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that Tutu co-chaired.
Ramaphosa hailed Tutu’s role during the TRC, saying it was a critical part of the country’s long journey to peace and freedom after many years of oppression and divisions. Tutu, who turned 87 on Sunday, could however not attend the event due to his ill health.
Now the government had no other choice but to focus on radically transforming the economy and addressing the pressing land issue, as reconciliation would not bring freedom without restorative justice, he said.
“In this sense, the process of truth and reconciliation will not be complete until we have acknowledged the economic and social injustices of the past and also taken steps to correct them so that they pave a future for all our future,” Ramaphosa said.
He, however, lamented that those who benefitted from the country’s brutal past did not want to come to the table and contribute in efforts of addressing the country’s problems.
“This is a responsibility that falls both on those who have been beneficiaries of racial privilege and those who suffered its debilitating effects,” Ramaphosa said.
He said South Africa could not claim to be a free country when basic constitutionally guaranteed rights continued to be not enjoyed by the majority of South Africans.
“We cannot talk of true freedom when 10 percent of the population has more wealth than the remaining 90 percent of the population combined; when women are discriminated against in their workplaces and are abused in their homes, and when privilege and poverty follow the same racial contours of our colonial past,” Ramaphosa said.