The last week saw two significant developments that will, in different ways, change South Africa, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa pointed to the lifting of the country’s remaining Covid-19 restrictions – including limitations on gatherings, international travel and wearing masks in public.

“For the first time in over two years, the country does not have any Covid restrictions in place. In my first televised address to the nation on 15 March 2020, I said that we would overcome the deadly pandemic in our midst. I said that we would act decisively and that we would act together.

“While there was not much fanfare about the lifting of the last Covid-19 restrictions, there has been a tectonic shift in our national psyche. We are emerging from a great national trauma that caused untold damage, destruction and heartbreak.”

In the same week as the restrictions were lifted, the work of the State Capture Commission drew to a close, and its final report was handed over, Ramaphosa said.

“The state capture era was a different kind of national trauma. Its damage extended beyond the ransacking of the public purse, the attempted destruction of our public institutions and the grand corruption that robbed the South African people of what was rightfully theirs. It was also a betrayal of the values of our Constitution, and of the principles upon which our democracy was founded.

“The immoral, unethical and criminal behaviour of self-serving individuals in positions of authority undermined the confidence of the people in the leaders and institutions that are meant to serve them. This has created a trust gap that will take some time to close.”

Having now known what happened and who was involved, the government’s work now begins in earnest, said Ramaphosa. Though they are unrelated, the pandemic and state capture were grave crises in South Africa’s national life, he said.

“As much as we did not take to the streets and celebrate last week, it was a momentous few days for our nation. It should remind us of how far we have come and that we need to continue to act and work together if we are to realise the better future that we all seek.”

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