President Cyril Ramaphosa focused on growing the economy, rebuilding local and international investor confidence in the economy and turbo-charging coordinated government, labour and private sector action to create employment. He says that ethical leadership would be put in place in the country. It is also the end of years of stagnation and dissolutionment
Ramaphosa, in his first State of the Nation speech, focused on the need to rebuild the economy, which he acknowledged had lost its lustre in recent years. “Unemployment has gone up and inequality has persisted, for several years our economy has not growth at a pace needed to create enough jobs.”
But there were signs that things were now looking up. He believed the world recognise that South Africa was undergoing the “dawn of change” and that good things were happening in the country’s politics. He said the year ahead was one of change “renewal and hope”.
Paying tribute to struggle heroes – the late Presidetn Nelson Mandela and struggle icon Albertina Sisulu – he said that South Africa would move in a direction to achieve “their shared vision for a better society … We should honour Madiba by putting behind the era of discord and disunity”.
He did not mention the Zuma years directly – except to say that the former president wished the nation and the state of the nation speech occasion well – but he did talk about “the era of dissolusionment … which has somehow engulfed our country.”
He said his government would establish a jobs summit to fast-track initiatives to create jobs especially for the youth. This would include community, private sector and government representatives to forge a new compact.
He referred to the “sunrise sectors” of the economy. He included mining, tourism and agriculture as potential growth sectors.
He repeated the ANC’s support for agricutural land seizure without compensation, but suggested this should not stifle the growth of the sector.
Ramaphosa said that a Youth Working Group would be established to help provide youth unemployed with jobs. Government would focus on jobs, he said.
Ramaphosa said ethical leadership needed to be instilled in South Africa. “We will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behaviour as well as ethical leadership (in the country).”
“We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity … that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the savings of hard-earned people.”
He said a cleanup of state owned enterprises was a high priority. “We should put behind an era of diminish trust in public institutions and in our public leaders.” South Africa needed to put all the negativity that “has dogged the country” behind it. “A new dawn is upon us… a wonderful dawn has arrived.”
He said there were also signs that the good news had reached the world. International investors were putting South Africa back on their radar screens. “There has been a moderate recovery in our economy and a broader sustained recovery in global economy.”
Commodity prices had improved “and keep on improving.” The stock market had risen, the mining sector was looking more positive and “the rand has strengthened.. there are early indications that .. confidence is on the rise.”