President Ramaphosa hails democracy's role in uplifting youth

Friday, February 16, 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa says individuals born after the advent of democracy embody the essence of Tintswalo, as they have gone on to record commendable achievements in their lives and careers.

The President was responding to this week’s two-day debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) by Members of Parliament. The SONA was delivered a week ago in Cape Town.

A number of young people, who have benefited from government over the last 30 years, were present in the National Assembly to listen to the President’s response to the debate. 

READ | Tintswalo, a child of democracy

“Today I am really honoured to have a number of Tinstwalos who have come to join us. Among these young people are aeronautical engineers, pilots, civil engineers, police officers, doctors, and a naval captain. They are qualified in a number of ways, all of whom have pursued their careers with the support of government departments and entities.

In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Ramaphosa introduced South Africa to Tintswalo, a child of  democracy.

He said that for millions of South Africans, Tintswalo's story resonated deeply with their own, which prompted young people to post images online of themselves in their graduation gowns or at their workplaces, saying "#IamTintswalo". 

“There are countless stories of young people who were born into abject poverty, but are now engineers, doctors, teachers, managers, tourism guides and operators, and entrepreneurs, thanks to the support and opportunities provided to them under democracy.

“They have spoken not only of how democracy has improved their lives, but of their gratitude to those who fought and strived to achieve that democracy. Many have paid tribute to their parents and grandparents – and to all the generations that came before – for the struggle and sacrifice that brought down apartheid and ushered in a new era of freedom,” he said. 

Responding to those who greeted Tintswalo’s story with derision, the President said that these were people who sought to diminish the achievements of democracy.

"To them, it doesn’t matter that nine out of 10 households are now living in a formal dwelling, or that a similar number has access to clean drinking water and electricity.

“To them, it doesn’t matter that more South African adults have completed matric or earned a degree, or that more learners from poor communities are achieving Bachelor passes. It doesn’t matter to these people that South Africans now have a higher life expectancy or that maternal and child health have improved dramatically.

“It doesn’t matter to them that millions of people have been lifted out of poverty through the provision of houses, land, social grants, free basic services, expanded access to health care and education and the introduction of a national minimum wage.

"All of these great achievements of human development do not matter to them, because Tintswalo doesn’t matter to them. They are prepared to dismiss all of this progress because it does not serve their narrative of a failed nation. It does not serve their political aspirations. It does not serve their narrow interests." 

The President said the journey to a brighter future continues. “We have travelled far and we have achieved much, but we have much further to go. We are clear about the progress that we have made, the challenges that we face, and the actions that we must now take,” the President said. –