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    The South African Journey To A Social Compact by Cyril Ramaphosa

    Date published:17 October  2013
    Article category: Media

    ‘The South African Journey To A Social Compact’ By Cyril Ramaphosa, MISTRA Patron at Patron's Dinner on 17 October 2013


    ‘The South African Journey To A Social Compact’By Cyril Ramaphosa

    When it was established three years ago, the Mapungubwe Institute of Strategic Reflection said its mission was to “advance South Africas development by addressing the complex challenges that straddle issues of nation-formation, economic growth, social equity, science and technology and positioning in a globalised world.

    At the time, we held a business networking dinner. The enthusiastic response to that event reflected a widely-held

    view that such a mission was worth pursuing and that such an institute was worth supporting.

    Now, three years later, your presence here this evening confirms that, indeed, MISTRA has done much to fulfil these expectations. It confirms that the faith we had in the potential of this institute was well-founded.

     For this, I commend the Executive Director Joel Netshitenzhe, the Council of Advisors, Board of Governors, Management Committee and staff. I also commend those companies and individuals who have generously supported the institute over this period.


    The value and relevance of MISTRA’s work at this moment in the country’s history cannot be overstated. It goes to the heart of the issues with which we, as a nation, are grappling.


    ​Central among these is the task of uniting all South Africans around a common programme of change that addresses the significant social and economic challenges that still hinder our progress towards a society in which all may experience a better quality of life.
    This task has been identified – sometimes in different terms and from different vantage points – by many people across society.


    There is a strong sense that to achieve the development and growth that we seek, South Africa needs to develop a social compact, some refer to it as a social partnership that commits every section of society to common objectives and an agreed set of actions.


     Thando Ntlemeza,i an ANC branch member wrting inUmrabulo, the ANC journal, quotes sociologist Roxanne Lalonde from a paper entitled "Unity in Diversity":



    "The political and social climate that prevails in the world today emphasises difference, disunity, and destruction rather than the qualities of unity and productive and constructive energy that are required to sustain human societies."



    Many observers would say Lalonde could well have been talking about our own coutry today.



    To avoid difference, disunity and destruction we need to foster a political and social climate that promotes unity and harnesses our productive and constructive energy.



    Many would agree that some form of social compact is required because it is evident that no social force on its own can fulfil either its own objectives or achieve the collective objective of growth and development. The private sector cannot flourish without a capable and effective state. The state cannot achieve its developmental objectives without a strong a vibrant private sector. Workers cannot improve their long term earnings without a growing private sector and employers cannot expect to grow their businesses without the support, input and collaboration of workers. I could go demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between the major social forces in our society.



    As we approach the 20th anniversary of the attainment of democracy, we can point to significant progress in establishing stable and resilient democratic institutions, in turning around our economy and placing it on a path of growth, and in addressing many of the basic needs of the poor.



    But, outstanding though our achievements may be, we are acutely aware that we still have massive challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. If we fail to meaningfully address these challenges, not only will we be unable to right the economic and social wrongs of apartheid, but we may find that the very achievements of the last two decades are gradually eroded.



    There is general agreement that South Africa needs substantially faster growth whose benefits are shared among all our people, particularly the poor. Our priority is to create employment for the millions of South Africans who are without work, many of whom have been without work for many years. Among these are young people progressing in age, who have never held down a job in their lives.

    Download full text pdf: Mr Ramaphosa address.pdfMr Ramaphosa address.pdf


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    Review Comments

    • Kiru Naidoo

      9 Jul 2014

    • The Lalonde thesis is indeed prophetic as we grapple with our own challenges of consolidating a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. The concept of social cohesion has entered our lexicon and I for one have struggled to wrap my mind around it. Is the objective an artificial unity in the public domain while retaining deep fissures and undisguised suspicions in the private domain? If social compacts are a tool in building our new society what are its potential minefields? I recall an old adage that goes along the lines that unity and non-racialism is built on the battlefield of struggle. Quo vadis?

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