South Africans must take ownership of the state and make it work for their benefit, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday while speaking at Reconciliation Day celebrations in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
"This is a new era, it is no longer the era of state capture - it is an era of the people capturing the state... and making the state work better for them," said Ramaphosa, addressing the crowd gathered at the Walter Sisulu University Stadium.
"You must capture the state and make sure that it works for you," he declared.
During his address, Ramaphosa also weighed in on land reform, saying that it would ensure reconciliation.
"Land reform... is key to furthering reconciliation in our country and is central to eliminating inequality in our country.
"Far from being a measure that will fuel tensions or set race relations back... accelerated land reform has the potential to improve the goodwill between the people of our country."
On the flip side, cautioned Ramaphosa, "failure to resolve the land issue in a just and equitable manner will threaten the stability of our democratic nation."
"There is sufficient land in South Africa for all of us so that we can work the land."
He said that by ending an era of arrogance, entitlement and privilege, "I am sure we can foster reconciliation".
Ramaphosa also commented on the "few" South Africans who wanted to take the country backwards by insulting different groups and showing bias using "vile names" and making racist comments.
"We must be a nation of people who respect one another... who see beauty in one another...because we are all beautiful," he declared.
Yet, he added a caveat later, saying that reconciliation was certainly not "just hugging each other and telling each other that we love each other" - instead it needed to be defined by concrete changes such as reducing poverty and inequality and providing jobs.
"The progress must be real," he declared.
Meanwhile, other politicians also weighed in with comments on Reconciliation Day.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane queried whether South Africans were drifting further apart rather than coming together.
"We must ask ourselves today: How quickly are we reconciling as a nation, and are we even still moving in the right direction? Because at times it feels like we are drifting further apart from each other," Maimane said in a speech prepared for delivery at a Reconciliation Day event held in Eldorado Park in Johannesburg.
He said while laws were about to fight structural racism - South Africans now needed to deal with their attitudes to each other.
"We must find better ways of listening to and hearing each other."
The EFF released a statement on Reconciliation Day in which it focused on land.
"It is only following the successful motion of the EFF in Parliament, that the true response to the battle of the Blood River has been finally constituted," the party said in a statement.
"Race relations between black and white people can only be sustainable once the land question has been resolved."