FOURWAYSREVIEW / 20 NOVEMBER 2019 - 05.15 / STAFF REPORTER
In keeping with practice, President Matamela Ramaphosa penned the following of his weekly letters on issues of concern and interest to citizens.
Almost everyone I meet in the country, from Lusikisiki or Johannesburg, is deeply concerned about the state of the economy and the high unemployment. After a decade of low growth and deepening poverty, you are looking for signs of progress in tackling these and other challenges which are real concerns. The economy will this year, record a lower growth than expected and much lower than what we need. This stretches government finances further and several industries are looking at retrenching workers.
Most of the confidence of 20 months ago has also dissipated with the reality of the problems becoming clearer. There had been hope for quick solutions to the damage that was done over a number of years. But implementing change takes time. The important thing is to move in a determined way towards change while remaining committed to rooting out state capture, corruption and malfeasance. Our collective task is to rebuild the confidence of citizens, not only on hope and expectation of change, but on concrete things that make a difference in the economy, real actions that ‘move the needle’.
Despite the difficulties, this is possible with citizens from all walks of life who are moved by the spirit of Thuma Mina to fix our country. They want to change the narrative of doubt to one of opportunity not through clever spin, but through action. South Africans are ready to rise to the challenge.
Most of the people I speak to recognise the progress made in turning our country around including those in many state-owned agencies such as the NPA, Sars, the police and State Security. It gives them confidence and shows that we are serious about restoring the credibility and integrity of the state, by tackling corruption and ending state capture.
Other progress is on the economy through a stimulus and recovery plan in response to our economy’s first recession in nine years. Several reforms have created a more investor-friendly environment. The finalised Mining Charter was welcomed by the industry together with the policy on the allocation of valuable broadband spectrum. We continue to make changes to our visa policies.
Funds have been redirected to stimulate economic activity where the majority of South Africans live. They include financial support to black commercial farmers, revitalisation of industrial parks in townships and the establishment of a Township Economy Fund. Also, government is increasing the value of goods and services procured from small business and cooperatives.
Also, government will finalise a clear economic growth strategy in a few weeks which will draw on many valuable contributions made by citizens to the discussion paper from National Treasury. Parts of the strategy are already in place including how to strengthen our reform programme, revitalise industrial strategy for key growth sectors and the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund for infrastructure investment.
Work is underway to improve the ease and reduce the cost of doing business, restructuring of state-owned enterprises and ensuring that they perform better. A clear strategy to place Eskom on a sustainable path of recovery is also being finalised.
This work takes place when government’s finances are strained and there is very little room to increase spending or borrowing. Therefore, we have to spend smartly, get rid of wastage and shift more resources to infrastructure investment.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER