South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in Pretoria, South Africa, June 17, 2020. The summit, held via video link, was jointly proposed by China, South Africa, the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal, the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). (South Africa Presidency/Handout via Xinhua)

South Africans have shown the true meaning of Ubuntu, the universal value of personhood and dignity, in 2020, said President Cyril Ramaphosa in his New Years message delivered on Thursday.

“As we reflect on the year that now draws to a close, we see a world that is fundamentally different to anything we have known before,” he said, “There is no corner of the earth, nor any part of our country, that has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“It has devastated lives and destroyed livelihoods, caused great pain, and left many people hungry and destitute. At the same time, it has brought our people together,” said Ramaphosa.

“In the face of this unprecedented crisis, South Africans have demonstrated the true meaning of Ubuntu. We have taken responsibility for each other’s welfare, by donating our time, our energy and our resources,” said the president.

Ramaphosa especially thanked the health and social services workers for taking care of people who are ill, hungry or lonely.

“Throughout the year, they have worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to care for us and protect us.”

He said the COVID-19 has made the country embrace technology. “We have harnessed technology as never before to keep our economy working, and we need to use the great advances we have made to shape a new world of work that is more productive, more efficient and more focused on the needs of our people.”

He said the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will kick start on January 1, 2021, will fundamentally change the economic fortunes of Africa. “It is the start of a new era of trade between African countries, when the continent will produce the goods and services it needs, when its economies will grow, industrialise and diversify, when it will realise the great potential of its abundant natural resources.”

Ramaphosa called on the South African entrepreneurs seize the abundant opportunities that “this historic development will present to explore new markets and build new partnerships.” Enditem

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