Government of National Unity: A moment of profound significance

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

19 June 2024 is by no means an ordinary day in the collective landscape of South Africa. With President Cyril Ramaphosa having taken his Oath of Office, marking the start of the seventh administration, the country is now firmly in the fold of the creation of a Government of National Unity.

The recently concluded 29 May National and Provincial Elections, while having been conducted in a manner that has been deemed free and fair by the South African Human Rights Commission, among others, demonstrated the maturity of South Africa's democracy since its early steps in 1994. Even though the outcomes of the first democratic election made clear the resounding message of the masses, who had long battled for the right of political and societal agency, a Government of National Unity was formed to help the fragile populace to navigate the treacherous waters of a nation that was new to inclusivity.

While this year's General Election results produced no outright majority winner, the requirement for leaders of different formations to work together is not too unsimilar to what the country had to do to find its way at the inception of democracy. Today, leaders are required to carve a new path, one where cooperation amongst parties with different views have come together, and continue to do so, united in the single purpose of providing citizens with services that are aimed at improving their quality of life and building a sense of national solidarity.

Addressing the public in his inaugural speech, and essentially the world at large who had been following developments in the country, President Ramaphosa on Wednesday said the formation of the Government of National Unity is a moment of profound significance.

“It is the beginning of a new era,” President Ramaphosa said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He said the Government of National Unity requires a common mission, which is anchored in safeguarding national unity, peace, stability, inclusive economic growth, non-racialism and non-sexism.

“Through the ballots that they have cast, the people of South Africa have made plain their expectation that the leaders of our country should work together."

President Ramaphosa said the people of South Africa have directed their representatives to put aside animosity and dissent, to abandon narrow interests and to pursue together only that which benefits the nation.

“As leaders, as political parties, we are called upon to work in partnership towards a growing economy, better jobs, safer communities and a government that works for its people.”

President Ramaphosa said from across the political spectrum, parties have answered that call.

“Understanding that no party can govern alone and make laws alone, these parties have agreed to work in partnership, to employ their talents for the good of the country and the progress of its people.

“Together, they have resolved to establish a government of national unity to pursue a common programme of fundamental and lasting change.

“As the leaders of this country came together in a Government of National Unity 30 years ago to forge a common future and build a united nation, the parties in the government of national unity of today have agreed to work together to address the most pressing challenges before our nation,” President Ramaphosa said.

President Ramaphosa said the parties have adopted a Statement of Intent, in which they have committed to pursue rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, to create a more just society by tackling poverty, to safeguard the rights of workers, to stabilise government and to build state capacity and to pursue a foreign policy based on human rights, solidarity and peace.

“As South Africans, we must each do what we can to achieve this mission. We will invite all parties, civil society, labour, business and other formations to a National Dialogue on the critical challenges facing the nation,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa said the parties have made a commitment to invest in South Africa’s people through quality education and health care, to address crime and corruption, to strengthen social cohesion and build a united nation and the will of the people shall be done without any doubt or question.

“The voters of South Africa did not give any single party the full mandate to govern our country alone.

“We will seek, as we have done at so many important moments in our history, to forge a social compact to realise the aspirations of our National Development Plan.

“As individuals, as families, as communities and in our many formations, let us draw on our every strength to turn our dream for a better South African into reality,” President Ramaphosa said. –