President Cyril Ramaphosa: Progress of economic recovery

On Saturday night, South Africans watched with pride and joy as our national rugby team, the Springboks, became the world champions for the fourth time since the advent of democracy in our country.

As we all watched their progress towards the championship, we marvelled at their resilience and determination to overcome some of the best teams in the rugby world. At moments when their cause seemed lost, they fought back and they emerged victorious.

This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements. We should also applaud our cricket team who have been performing well in the Cricket World Cup. I spoke to the Proteas captain Temba Bavuma and encouraged them to remain focused and told him that the entire nation supports and stands behind them. I also told him that I intend to travel to Mumbai in India to watch them play in the finals.

As we confront the many severe challenges in our country, we draw hope and encouragement from the determination and the performance the Springboks and the Proteas have displayed. The victory by the Springboks and the performance of the Proteas follows the victory of Banyana Banyana in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and their progress to the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Our spirits were similarly lifted by the achievements of our national squad at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin in June.

The determination and resilience of our teams have given credence to Madiba’s words that sports unites the nation. In their achievements, they have revealed much about the unity of the people of the country they represent. As a people, we have shown before what is possible when we are united, when we are determined, when we try hard and when we refuse to give up. Together, we overcame apartheid, ended centuries of conflict and gave birth to a thriving democracy. Together, we confronted and overcame the deadliest global pandemic in over a century. We are indeed stronger together. 

As we reflect on these great achievements on the sporting field we also need to reflect on our economic recovery and the further steps that we are taking to revive economic growth and improve the lives of our people. As the latest census figures show, we have achieved great feats of human development since the beginning of democracy. Millions of South Africans have been raised out of poverty and now have housing and access to electricity, water, sanitation and other basic needs. Access to health care and education have been greatly expanded. Much more still needs to be done to make more progress.

corruption, including bringing those responsible for state capture to justice.Over the last four years, the NPA Investigating Directorate has taken 34 state capture and corruption cases to court, involving 205 accused persons. Freezing orders of R14 billion have now been granted to the Asset Forfeiture Unit for state capture related cases.

Around R5.4 billion has to date been recovered and returned to the state. As recommended by the State Capture Commission, we are putting in place laws, institutions and practices that reduce the potential for corruption of any sort and on any scale. We are continuing to build meaningful compacts with key stakeholders in a number of areas.

We have collectively embarked on a journey of economic reform which will set our country on a path to higher growth and more jobs. The concerted efforts of all South Africans are starting to show results in many areas.If we take a short term view of our current challenges, we may not see the transformation that is underway or the benefits that these reforms will have for our country.I am confident that through the actions we are taking now, we will overcome the challenges we face and build a society that works for all of its people.

We have much more to do. But like the Springboks, we have the determination and commitment to overcome any challenge.Our victorious Springboks will return home tomorrow. We will welcome them with great joy and jubilation. They will conduct a victory tour around the country and I will receive them at the Union Buildings later this week. I want us to now rally behind the Proteas in the same way as we have given our support to the Springboks. I want us all to embark on a period of celebration culminating in a celebratory holiday after our matriculants have finished their exams and the Proteas have done the country proud at the Cricket World Cup. I know that many of us want us to have a holiday now to celebrate.

But we should all agree that we should give our matriculants time to focus on their exams and celebrate afterwards.In celebration of the Springboks’ momentous achievement and the achievements of all our other sports men and women – and as a tribute to the resolve of our united nation – I am declaring Friday the 15th of December 2023 as a public holiday. We declare this to be a day of hope, a day of celebration and unity. Our sports men and women have shown us what is possible. We will succeed and we will ensure that we leave no-one behind.

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