Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 4th Annual Ubuntu Awards, Cape Town International Convention Centre

President Cyril Ramaphosa


Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The Honourable Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador M’Poko,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Esteemed Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Business leaders,
Our sponsors,
Esteemed Guests, 
Members of the Media,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to address you on the occasion of the Fourth Annual Ubuntu Awards ceremony. 

This awards ceremony takes place as South Africa celebrates Human Rights Month. 

Yesterday we commemorated Human Rights Day under the theme ‘Promoting and Deepening Human Rights across Society’. 

On this day, we remember the tenacity and indomitable spirit of our people and pledge to ensure that their resolve in standing up against injustice endures. 

We commit ourselves never to repeat past mistakes. 

This year is particularly important in the life of our nation as we celebrate the centenary of the births of our struggle icons Tata Nelson Mandela and Mme Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu. 

We acknowledge their roles in the struggle for the liberation of our country and their commitment to be disciplined and loyal servants of our people.

At the African Union Summit in January 2018, we launched a year-long Mandela centenary celebration. 

In Madiba’s honour, the AU decided to convene a dedicated meeting at the 31st Ordinary Session of its Assembly in Mauritania in July 2018. 

The continent’s leadership fully support the planned UN Peace Summit taking place on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September as part of these centenary celebrations. 

These activities will recall and reinforce President Mandela’s vision of a world defined by peace, human dignity and decency. 

In his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in December 1993, he said:

“This must be a world of democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to become refugee.”

President Mandela spared no energy in pursuit of a just, fair and equitable world. 

We have gathered here today to honour those who have distinguished themselves in pursuit of the dream Madiba and Ma Sisulu shared. 

We are proud of all the nominees because their efforts resonate with their commitment to improve the living conditions of our people. 

What we aspire to achieve as a country is aligned with what the peoples of the entire continent seek to achieve. 

This is borne out by the AU’s Agenda 2063, which envisions a continent united in growth, development and prosperity for all.

In this context, we returned in the early hours of this morning from the AU Extra-Ordinary Summit held in Rwanda on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

This was a milestone event in our long journey towards an integrated continental economy.

As South Africa, we are proud to have signed the Kigali Declaration on the Establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area, signifying our unequivocal commitment to the achievement of this free trade area. 

Through the Kigali Declaration, we have undertaken to ratify all related instruments in accordance with our domestic laws and process.

We are a continent that is making steady progress towards shared prosperity. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is an important year in the implementation of our international programme to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment. 

South Africa continues as the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which we assumed in 2015. 

Likewise we are chairing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), positions that we assumed in August and October 2017 respectively. 

Furthermore we are going to assume the chair of the BRICS formation later this year. 

This provides South Africa with several opportunities to advance Nelson Mandela’s vision of a world order that advances above all else the interests of the poor, marginalised, oppressed and exploited.

We will work with our partners in all these bodies to develop the African continent and establish ties of mutual benefit between the countries of the South.

Your Excellencies,

We encourage our people to participate in domestic and international endeavors through active citizenry. 

Our people cannot be spectators in the development and management of their own affairs. 

We must strive to strengthen public-private partnerships in pursuit of a decent life for all. 

In the State of the Nation Address last month, we detailed our plans to rebuilding our economy, create jobs and tackle poverty.

I call on our people to own these endeavors. 

In this era of renewal, we are guided by Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan, which enjoins us to transform our society for the benefit of all South Africans.

It is therefore fitting that we applaud all nominees this evening, who have taken it upon themselves to fly our flag high as South African ambassadors in various fields of excellence. 

You are the standard bearers of an active citizenry that embraces the principle and practice of Ubuntu. 
We must draw inspiration from Ma Sisulu’s selfless service to the people.

It is incumbent upon us to pursue the vision and ideals of President Mandela. 

As we celebrate your individual achievements, so too do we recognise that your work is part of a broader effort to change the world for the betterment of humanity.

Working together, we can build a better today – and an even better tomorrow – for everyone.

I thank you.


Issued by the Presidency