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President Cyril Ramaphosa: 2020 State of the Nation Address

Saturday, 15 February 2020  
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President Cyril Ramaphosa: 2020 State of the Nation Address

13 Feb 2020

State of the Nation Address by President Cyril ramaphosa, Parliament, Cape Town

Fellow South Africans,

It is 30 years since Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela walked out of the gates of Victor Verster Prison, a moment in our history that signalled perhaps more vividly than any other that freedom was at hand.

As he stood on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall to address the masses who had come in their tens of thousands to welcome him, he said:

‘Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.’

Now, 30 years later, as we continue our onward march to improve the lives of our people, as we confront great challenges, as we endure troubled times, we too cannot allow fear to stand in our way.

We must forge ahead, permitting neither adversity nor doubt to divert us.

As we gather to reflect on the state of our nation, we are joined by the family of Basil February, a courageous young freedom fighter who lost his life in Zimbabwe in the Wankie campaign of 1967.

For half a century his resting place, like those of several of his comrades, has, until now, remained unknown.

His contribution, his sacrifice, has never been forgotten.

This evening, we gather here humbled by the memories of those men and women who gave their lives for our freedom, deeply aware of the great responsibility we carry to realise their dreams.

There are times when we have fallen short, there are times when we have made mistakes, but we remain unwavering in our determination to build a society that is free and equal and at peace.

Our history tells us that when we are united in peace and faith, we can conquer all obstacles and turn our country into a place in which we all feel safe and comfortable.

It is in that spirit that we now approach the present moment.

Our country is facing a stark reality.

Our economy has not grown at any meaningful rate for over a decade.

Even as jobs are being created, the rate of unemployment is deepening.

The recovery of our economy has stalled as persistent energy shortages have disrupted businesses and people’s lives.

Several state owned enterprises are in distress, and our public finances are under severe pressure.

It is you, the people of South Africa, who carry this burden, confronted by rising living costs, unable to escape poverty, unable to realise your potential.

Yet, at the same time, there is another part to our reality.

It is the reality of a youthful population that has more access to education than ever before and which is achieving steadily improving outcomes.

It is the reality of 2.4 million children in early childhood development and pre-school.

It is about the 81% of learners who passed matric last year, with an increasing proportion coming from rural and township schools.

For this great achievement, we applaud the Class of 2019.

Our reality is also that of the 720,000 students who received state funding for TVET colleges and universities last year.

It is about the 6.8 million South Africans who know their HIV status, about the 5 million people who have been initiated on antiretroviral treatment and the 4.2 million people whose HIV viral load is, as a consequence, undetectable.

These are not just statistics.

These are lives being improved.

They are signs of progress.

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