Civil society key to national development – President Ramaphosa

Friday, August 5, 2022

The signing of the Social Sector Framework Agreement sets the basis for a strong State-civil society partnership to tackle poverty, inequality and employment.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who described the signing of the agreement as a milestone, said the agreement will further deepen democratic participation.

President Ramaphosa, along with Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu and Convenor of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) Community Constituency, Thulani Tshefuta, signed the Social Sector Framework Agreement on Friday.  

“We must seize this opportunity to deep our collaboration as we build a better South Africa that leaves no one behind

“I have no doubt that government, civil society and all social partners will continue to work together meaningfully beyond this summit, as we have done for many years, to improve the lives of our people and build a better country,” the President said.

The President delivered a keynote address at the closing ceremony of the Presidential Social Sector Summit at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg on Friday.

The two-day summit was held under the theme: “Fostering Social Cohesion to Enable Socio-economic Participation in Communities”.

President Ramaphosa said a strong, vibrant and activist civil society is key to the development of any nation.

He emphasised that it is critical that the interface between government and civil society is improved and strengthened.

“We have a common appreciation that we are all heading in the same direction and on the same road towards the realisation of a better South Africa. We know that to reach this goal, we have to be partners and not adversaries,” he said.

At the same time, the President said they have an expectation that where either party falters or falls short, they we will hold each other to their promises, and that both government and civil sector will require transparency and accountability of each other.

“Since before the dawn of democracy, civil society organisations in South Africa have taken up the causes of the marginalised, the oppressed and the vulnerable.

“From the HIV/Aids pandemic to substance abuse, from poverty to illiteracy, from unemployment to gender-based violence, civil society has been crafting constructive strategies and driving collaborative approaches that put the needs of the poor first,” the President said.

Fighting crime and lawlessness 

Turning to crime and lawlessness in the country, President Ramaphosa said that these incidents are of grave concern and highlight many of the challenges SA faces. 

Over the past few days, the country has witnessed scenes of violent protest, damage to public infrastructure and, in some cases, loss of life in areas such as Kagiso in the West Rand and Tembisa in Ekurhuleni.

“As we address these incidents, we need to distinguish between legitimate protest and criminality, addressing the concerns and grievances of communities, while acting to prevent loss of life and destruction of property,” he said.

The President said as the country commends the police for apprehending suspected illegal miners and shutting down their operations, they must double their efforts to catch those responsible for the heinous crime of the gang rape of young women.

“This horrific crime is a reminder that as government, and as a society, we must do more to tackle gender-based violence. Over the last few years, as a result of cooperation between government and civil society, we have strengthened the response of the criminal justice system to such crimes,” the President said.

The President encouraged communities to deal with problems by working with law enforcement agencies and not resort to mob justice.

“The Commissioner of Police, together with the Minister [of Police], have set up teams that are going to deal with the issue of illegal mining and deal with those Zama Zamas in the illegal activities they get involved in, particularly terrorising our communities.

“We will put this to an end and we will do it as effectively as possible,” he said.

The President said government, represented by the South African Police Service and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, will convene an imbizo with the community of Kagiso over the weekend to interrogate issues of illegal mining and crime.

He said overcoming the challenges of crime, lawlessness, GBV and corruption requires all sectors of society to bring their respective capabilities together and unite behind a common vision.

“Civil society organisations are where our people are, whether as NGOs, as community, professional and faith-based organisations, as academia or as worker representative organisations,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said one of the priorities of this administration is to drive people-centred, localised development through the District Development Model (DDM).

The DDM seeks to promote an approach to development that takes into account needs, circumstances and priorities on the ground.

“Civil society reaches where business and government often cannot. You have a solid track record of organic interventions and activations that yield results. For this reason, this summit is crucial for us to align our efforts and actions,” the President said.

Corruption 

The President reiterated that government remains steadfastly committed in its fight against corruption.

In the last financial year, for example, he said the specialised commercial crimes unit finalised 380 cases, with a 90% conviction rate.

The President acknowledged that there is much more that needs to be done but the fight against corruption is gaining momentum. – SAnews.gov.za

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