SONA 2021: President Ramaphosa Puts Economy in Spotlight Amid Pandemic

SONA 2021: President Ramaphosa Puts Economy in Spotlight Amid Pandemic

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is delivering the State of the Nation Address 2021 on Thursday evening, 11 February.


Ramaphosa is expected to shine the light on the way forward for SA amid the fallout from the pandemic. Image: GCIS/ Flickr
Source: UGC

Under the dark cloud of the Covid-19 crisis, the President is expected to provide insights into how the government plans to boost the economy.

In the run-up to the address, the Presidency has put the spotlight on unemployment and small businesses impacted by the lockdown.

With negative sentiment against Ramaphosa running high in recent times, the pressure is on to provide some optimism to South Africans.

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SONA 2021: Ramaphosa Extends R350 Covid19 Relief Grant by 3 Months

President Cyril Ramaphosa has now announced that the Special Covid-19 Grant providing R350 to applicants has now been extended by a further three months.

Further assistance for struggling businesses, especially those who remain unable to operate amid the national lockdown, will be announced in due course.

Ramaphosa is adamant that, as a collective, this crisis is an opportunity to rebuild a new South Africa:

"Just as a harsh fire gives new life to our country’s fynbos, this crisis is an opportunity to build a different, better South Africa. Let us work together as government, as business, as labour and as all of society to clear away the rubble and lay a new foundation."

Despite the difficulties facing the nation, Ramaphosa encouraged supporting fellow citizens where possible:

"As we rebuild our economy in the midst of a pandemic, it is necessary that we continue – within our means – to provide support to those businesses and individuals that continue to be most affected."

SONA 2021: Tackling Crime 'Central' to SA's Economic Recovery

President Ramaphosa says that the testimony at the State Capture Inquiry has revealed the extent of the damage done to SA by corruption:

"Testimony at the Commission has shown how the criminal justice system was compromised and weakened. The revelations from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry lay bare the extent of state capture and related corruption."

Ramaphosa says that corruption is one of the 'greatest impediments' to SA's growth and development, adamant that tackling crime is 'central to the success of our recovery'.

Lauding it as a 'significant advance for transparency and accountability', Ramaphosa announced that the Political Party Funding Act will come into effect as of April.

In addition to this, the Special Investigating Unit, authorised to investigate unlawful conduct during the pandemic, has finalised probes into 164 contracts totalling to R3.5 billion.

Ramaphosa announced that a 'fusion centre' has been established seeking to unify key law enforcement agencies in a bid to share information and resources:

"The Fusion Centre has brought many cases to trial and preserved or recovered millions of rands in public funds."

SONA 2021: Ramaphosa Says Days of Government 'Messing Up' Are Over

Ramaphosa has highlighted the importance of integrity in the public sector as critical to the future of South Africa.

The President noted that in addition to harming the overall work of the government, a lack of professionalism dents the state's image:

"The public service is at the coalface of government, and lack of professionalism doesn’t just impact service delivery; it also dents public confidence. Advancing honesty, ethics and integrity in the public service is critical if we are to build a capable state."

Ramaphosa says that the performance agreements recently signed by both the President and South African Minister will enhance accountability and accelerate service delivery.

The President says that working with both public and private partners, the government is attempting to address inadequate service delivery.

Ramaphosa says that properly qualified officials will be deployed to boost efficiency, admitting that the days of 'messing up' are over:

"We want professionals in our local government."

SONA 2021: Stabilising Eskom Priority to SA's Economic Recovery

With load-shedding spiking to Stage 3 outages hours ahead of his address, Ramaphosa says that stabilising Eskom has been a top priority:

"The fourth priority intervention of the Recovery Plan is to rapidly expand energy generation capacity."

The President says that the restructuring of the state-owned entity has formed part and parcel of the attempts to renew it:

"Restoring Eskom to operational and financial health and accelerating its restructuring process is central to this objective. Eskom has been restructured into three separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution."

Relaxing legislation connected to energy generation is expected to help fast-track these efforts:

"Recent analysis suggests that easing the licensing requirements for new embedded generation projects could unlock up to 5,000 megawatts of additional capacity and help to ease the impact of load shedding."

SONA 2021: Billions Prove SA Still 'Attractive Investment Destination'

President Cyril Ramaphosa has highlighted the importance of private sector participation in the economic stimulus aimed at creating jobs in South Africa.

Despite the incredibly altered environment that has been created by Covid-19, Ramaphosa noted an increase in investments:

"Even under difficult economic circumstances, the Investment Conference managed to raise some R108 billion in additional investment commitments."

The President says that companies have reported investments worth billions that are set to benefit SA:

"Firms have reported that some R183 billion of these investments has already flowed into projects that benefit the South African economy."

This, according to Ramaphosa, is proof that South Africa is still an attractive investment destination:

"This shows that our country is still an attractive investment destination for both local and offshore companies."

SONA 2021: Ramaphosa Calls for Greatly Reduced Reliance on Imports

President Cyril Ramaphosa has highlighted the need to increase local production in order to boost the flagging economy.

Ramaphosa encouraged the nation to buy local, pointing out that the suit he wore for the address was produced by South African workers:

"The second priority intervention of the Recovery Plan is to support a massive increase in local production and to make South African exports globally competitive."

This plan, if the target is achieved, a potential R200 billion could be returned to SA's annual output, explained Ramaphosa:

"If we achieve our target, we will significantly expand our productive economy, potentially returning more than R200 billion to the country’s annual output."

The aim of the plan is to see South Africans relying far less on imports into the country:

"All social partners who participated in the development of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as part of our social compact have agreed to work together to reduce our reliance on imports by 20% over the next five years."

42 Products have been identified as part of this plan to source goods locally, ranging from edible oils to steel products.

SONA 2021: Ramaphosa says Smart City Dreams Now a Reality in SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has noted the launch of two major projects intended to provide nearly 70 000 citizens with housing:

"Since the announcement of the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we have launched two major human settlements projects that will provide homes to almost 68,000 households in the Gauteng province."

In response to those who had 'scoffed' at his previously mentioned dreams of a smart city, Ramaphosa commented:

"The Lanseria Smart City, the first new city to be built in a democratic South Africa, is now a reality in the making."

Ramaphosa says that the draft plan for this project has now been released for public comment:

"The draft masterplan for this smart city – which will become home to between 350,000 to 500,000 people within the next decade – was completed in November 2020 and is now out for public comment."

SONA 2021: President Ramaphosa Notes Immense Impact on Economy

President Cyril Ramaphosa has noted the immense economic strain that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on South Africa.

Ramaphosa says that there was no way of knowing exactly how both the virus and the subsequent lockdown would affect the nation:

"When I delivered the State of the Nation Address in this House last year, none of us could have imagined how – within a matter of weeks – our country and our world would have changed so dramatically."

With poverty on the rise, Ramaphosa noted that inequality in South Africa is deepening:

"There were 1.7 million fewer people employed in the third quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter, before the pandemic struck. Our unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 30.8%."

The President lauded the social and economic relief package announced last year as the 'largest intervention of its kind in the history of South Africa:

  • Over 18 million citizens received additional social grant payments
  • R57 Billion in wage support paid to over 4.5 million workers to protect jobs
  • Distressed businesses received R70 billion in tax relief and over R18 billion in loans

SONA 2021: President Ramaphosa Addresses Vaccine Woes Amid Confusion

President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed the confusion surrounding the nation's questionable start to the Covid-19 vaccine campaign.

Ramaphosa explained that research proving the AstraZeneca vaccine ineffective against the new strain of Covid-19 in South Africa was a devastating blow to these plans:

"Since this variant is now the dominant variant in our country, this finding has significance for our programme. It will affect the choice of vaccine and the manner of their deployment."

READ MORE: SONA 2021: Ramaphosa Addresses Vaccine Rollout in the Country

SONA 2021: Ramaphosa Unveils Key Focus Points for the Year Ahead

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has kicked off his 2021 State of the Nation Address by noting SA's 'true character'

Ramaphosa says that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that SA is a nation driven by resilience, comparing the country to the fynbos:

"The fynbos that stretches across the Cape is one of the most distinctive features of any plant. It is wondrous in its diversity... Like the fynbos, we, too, have proven to be resilient."

Ramaphosa highlighted the four key focuses for the year ahead, namely:

  • Defeat the pandemic
  • Accelerate economic recovery
  • Implement economic reforms to create jobs
  • Fight corruption and strengthen the state

SONA 2021: Undeniably Muted Affair as the Few Attendants Arrive

While previous years kicked off the State of the Nation Address with a red carpet and festivities, this year the mood is eerily silent.

Around 50 attendants are in the Chamber of the National Assembly on Thursday evening, with the address coinciding with Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

Parliament shared some insight into the situation ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech, revealing Members of Parliament taking their socially distanced seats in the unusually empty venue.

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