Tag: Cyril Ramaphosa

Breaking News – Bheki Cele Visiting Free State Today

Minister of Police Bheki Cele and a high-level government delegation are headed to the Free State towns of Senekal and Paul Roux today.  Racial tensions have reached boiling point after the murder of  Brendin Horner.  Two suspects connected to the murder appeared in court on Tuesday last week and chaos erupted when farmers stormed the courthouse demanding the suspects be handed over to the community.  Court property was damaged and a police vehicle set alight.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, members of all major political parties,  and ordinary South Africans all had their say about the violent clashes in Senekal on Tuesday.  Ramaphosa condemned Horner’s killing as an appalling act of cruelty saying that the recent events opened up old wounds.  This morning Bheki Cele, and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo are visiting the Free State community as well as Horner’s family to offer condolences.  The delegation are expected to meet with farming groups too.

The delegation has a bumpy road ahead trying to balance the concerns of angry farmers, while addressing the grievances of those that feel that the protesters acted irresponsibly and should be held accountable.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance (DA) and chief whip Natasha Mazzone laid a criminal complaint against Julius Malema (Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters) and MP Nazier Paulsen for inciting violence. Malema encouraged his 3.2 million Twitter followers to “attack” with a picture of a machine gun.  Paulsen uploaded an image of a gun with the caption “get ready”.  The Minister of Police already met with Malema to implore him to avoid further racial tension.

Bheki Cele questioned the effectiveness of the criminal justice system after it was revealed that one of the men accused of murdering Horner was arrested 16 times before.  “The people we have arrested there, one of them has been arrested two times but the other one has been arrested 16 times. I would like to know why a person who has been arrested 16 times is still given another chance to commit other crime?”

Gauteng News – Ramaphosa launches Mooikloof City

Ramaphosa launched the R30-billion Mooikloof Mega Residential City Project on Sunday.  The development is the result of a public-private partnership between Balwin Properties, the Gauteng Provincial Government, and the City of Tshwane.  The Mooikloof Mega Residential City will be located east of the capital and once completed, will boast 50,000 apartments.  “Once completed, the Mooikloof Mega City may end up becoming the world’s largest sectional property development, with land also earmarked for schools, shops and offices,” President Ramaphosa said. “It is pleasing to note the development is being pursued in line with green building principles, and will make optimal use of green belts and green spaces for residential recreation.”

The president said the development was something that would help push back against apartheid design that relegated many people to the periphery. “While a minority lived in comfort and security with access to centers of commercial activity, the black majority were confined to townships that served as labour reserves. In the rural parts of our country this was even worse, with the under-developed Bantustans existing alongside more affluent so-called white South Africa. We continue to feel the effects of apartheid spatial design in what may be termed the 40/40/40 principle. This means that most people are housed 40 kilometers from employment opportunities, as a result, they spend over 40 minutes travelling to and from work, and spend over 40% of their incomes on transport expenses. In many cases those affected are the poor who live in 40m2 houses.”

According to Ramaphosa, the project is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy climate and it demonstrated the strength of public-private partnerships.  “The success of any future mega housing development rests with public/private sector collaboration. Private sector resources and expertise will aid government’s efforts to meet the housing demand. The public sector can incentivise further investment by providing the necessary bulk infrastructure to enable development,” Ramaphosa explained.

The apartments are expected to sell for between R500,000 and R800,000, focusing on state employees.

News: DA calls on Ramaphosa to lift Covid-19 lockdown curfew, open borders

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the curfew imposed in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, open all sectors of the South African economy, and allow for international travel and reintroduce a normal school week.

“Lockdown restrictions must be ended entirely and immediately, with the exception of mass gatherings in confined spaces. This severe and prolonged lockdown has plunged our economy, the lifeline of our society, into unprecedented crisis. We simply cannot afford the luxury of blanket restrictions on economic activity,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.

“Rather, government should trust people to take individual responsibility in line with clear safety guidelines. The lockdown has devastated South Africa’s economy, causing immense suffering, including widespread hunger. It has increased, rather than decreased, risk for millions of households, and aggravated inequality, including educational inequality.”

Steenhuisen said the country now faces the prospect of a deep and prolonged depression as debt spirals out of control.

“Respected scientists, such as vaccinology Professor Shabir Mahdi and Dr Glenda Gray, both members of government’s ministerial advisory committee, have advised that lockdown is not serving any useful purpose and should be ended, with the exception of large gatherings in confined spaces,” said Steenhuisen.

He said in calling for a full opening of the South African economy and schools, the DA is not denying the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections, “even though the scientific consensus is that this risk is low”.

“Rather, we believe that the risk posed to households by a deep and prolonged depression is far greater on balance. Furthermore, the recovery rate for those infected is now much higher than some months ago, while societal behaviour change and a build-up of herd immunity are both serving to considerably slow the rate of transmission, which was the original purpose of lockdown,” said Steenhuisen.

“We need to get back to work, to school, and to our lives – and we need to do it safely. But we need to do more than that. We also need to agree as a society to back the economic reforms that can get our economy growing again, and that can roll back poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“These include urgently opening up the energy market to enable a reliable, affordable power supply and auctioning spectrum to bring down data costs, as well as opening the labour market for small business, to boost job creation.

“And finally, we must walk away from investment-killing policies such as NHI (national health insurance), EWC (expropriation without compensation), asset prescription and SARB (SA Reserve Bank) nationalisation.”

Steenhuisen said “poverty is a deadly pandemic in its own right requiring decisive action from our government that has so far not been forthcoming”.

Speculation is rife that President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week address the nation and announce a further easing of lockdown restrictions to level 1.

News: From the Desk of the President.

Dear Fellow South African,

In many countries around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has required the limitation of many civil liberties and put social cohesion to the test.

But countries with strong institutions, vigilant judicial systems and a robust media have been able to prevent human rights from being undermined and the authority of the state being abused.

It has been six months since the national state of disaster was proclaimed. Despite the unprecedented nature of the disease and the immense challenge of placing a country of 58 million people under lockdown, we have fared well. We have managed to contain the spread of the disease primarily because of the cooperation and vigilance of all citizens.

This is in no small part due to the sterling work of our media.

We owe a debt of gratitude to South Africa’s hardworking and tenacious journalists. They have kept our people informed by disseminating key health messages about social distancing and hygiene. They have done so under extremely trying conditions, often with limited resources.

They have told the stories of the effects of lockdown on the lives of people and their businesses. They have been out in the villages, towns and cities, bringing stories of ordinary people and drawing national attention to problems being experienced in hospitals and clinics, prompting government action.

Our media have also shone a light on excesses that perhaps would not have ordinarily come to light. They have fulfilled their watchdog role by unearthing acts of corruption and maladministration, sparking a massive national debate and leading to a number of high-profile investigations. Through this reporting they have earned people’s trust.

A free press is not an end in itself. It is a means by which democracy is secured and upheld. During this pandemic, our media has played not just its traditional watchdog role, but exercised its civic duty in supporting the national effort to contain the coronavirus.

Given the importance of the media to the health of our democracy, it is a great concern that like all other sectors of the economy, the coronavirus crisis has hit our media houses hard. Some publications lost as much as 60% of their income in the early days of the lockdown. A number of companies have had to implement salary cuts, reduce staff numbers or reduce hours worked. Regrettably, some publications have even been forced to close, among them some of South Africa’s most established and well-known magazine titles.

The job losses that have resulted from the lockdowns have exacerbated a crisis for media companies already facing challenges like loss of advertising revenues, falling circulation and market share being taken by mobile-first news and other technologies. These financial difficulties are being faced across the board, from online titles to traditional broadsheets to the public broadcaster.

This was one of the issues that was raised sharply during my engagement with the South African National Editors’ Forum last week. Instead of lamenting their fate, however, the media industry is working hard to refine business models, to drive innovation and to retain staff as much as possible.

At the same time, the media is a unique entity in any society because its practitioners fulfil a role that is so essential to our democratic order. They work to keep the public informed and to keep power in check.

We need more journalists, not less. That is why the loss of even a single journalist is not just a loss to the industry but to the country.

We need our media veterans, who bring with them vast experience and institutional memory, and are able to offer critical reportage and informed analysis. At the same time we need more young journalists in the profession who are tech-savvy, abreast with new trends in storytelling and in touch with the concerns of a youthful population.

As a society we owe the media our full support. Whether it is electing to pay for content, supporting crowdfunded journalism, paying our SABC license fees or simply buying a newspaper, we can all play our part to support this industry in crisis. As government, despite the gloomy economic climate we will continue to extend advertising spend to publications and broadcasters, especially community media.

The private sector must also continue to support the industry through advertising and working with media houses in the production of innovative content in line with global media trends. Local philanthropic and donor organisations should also come on board and support public interest journalism ventures, as is the case in many democracies.

The proliferation of fake news during the pandemic, primarily on social media platforms, has added to the urgency for more news that is accurate, fair and impartial. During this time our people have relied on our established media houses for information, once again underscoring their importance as pillars of our democracy.

As we begin the great task of rebuilding our economy in the aftermath of the pandemic, the media industry will need our support more than ever. The free press was once described as ‘the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men and women prize’. As we salute their role in this pandemic, let us do what we can to ensure that the free and diverse media in our country is able to survive and thrive.

Best regards,
Cyril Ramaphosa

News: From the Desk of the President

Dear Fellow South African,

There are few callings more important for a person than the call to public service.

It is an opportunity to improve people’s lives and change society for the better. It carries great responsibility and often demands much of individuals and their families.

Tomorrow is the start of Public Service Month, which is held in September each year to promote a culture of pride and ethics in the public service and improvement in all facets of service provision.

A streamlined, efficient and well-integrated civil service is the hallmark of a capable state. Likewise, an unproductive, inefficient and cumbersome civil service can frustrate the implementation of even the best policies.

Public servants are the first interface between government and citizens. Their encounters, whether positive or negative, are crucial in how the state is perceived by the wider population.

Our key priority is to build a capable state. If we are to build a more capable state we have to seriously and urgently address the shortcomings in the organisation and the capacity of the public service.

The view that the public service is bloated is misplaced. Public servants include officials and administrators, but they also include doctors, nurses, police men and women and teachers who play an invaluable role in keeping the wheels of our country turning.

The real issue is whether – given its size, cost and needs of our country – the public service is performing as it should. The experience of our people is that in several areas, the state is falling short of expectations.

There are some fundamental problems that we are working to fix.

One of the areas to which we’re giving attention is known as the ‘political-administrative’ interface, where lines of accountability at the most senior levels of the state have become blurred. Political office bearers such as Ministers, MECs and Mayors often veer towards getting involved in administrative matters that should be the responsibility of professional public servants.

While the public service is required to implement the electoral mandate of the governing party and to account to the Executive, they need to be able to do this work without undue political interference.

Public service managers must be given the space, the means and the resources to manage.

Senior appointments are sometimes made on political considerations rather than expertise. This severely limits the capacity and effective functioning of the state.

As much as the ranks of our civil service comprise individuals committed to driving government’s programme of action, it has also over the years been associated with patronage. This is manifested through the appointment of people into senior positions based on considerations other than their capability to execute the tasks of the office they are appointed to.

The building of a capable, ethical and developmental state is among our foremost priorities. We want the public service to be oriented towards efficiency, performance and developmental outcomes.

The civil service should attract high-calibre and qualified candidates. As one of the ways of achieving this, the National Development Plan (NDP) proposes a formal graduate recruitment scheme for the public service. Our people want the best and the brightest in society to serve them.

The civil service must be seen as a career destination of choice by those who want to make a difference in the life of their country, and not merely as a comfortable 9-to-5 desk job or a place to earn a salary with minimal effort.

Should some still harbour this view they should take advantage of opportunities to exit the public service to make way for those who are up to the task.

Training and upskilling is critical to professionalising the civil service.

The National School of Government is playing an important role in building a culture of lifelong learning for those already in the ranks. As an example, the school offers a certificate programme for anyone who wants to be appointed into senior management. Many of the school’s programmes – from advanced project management to financial management and budgeting to change leadership – are offered online.

The school is also engaged in collaboration with international training institutes to offer courses on wider governance issues.

Being a public servant is an honour and a privilege. It demands dedication, selflessness, professionalism, commitment and the utmost faithfulness to the principles of Batho Pele, of putting the people first.

Public servants are entrusted with managing state resources for the benefit of the public and in guarding against them being misused and abused. They are representatives of a government derived of the people and for the people, and are guardians of our Constitution.

At a time when we have been confronted with a series of scandals that point to clear complicity by certain public servants in acts of corruption, this Public Service Month should be an opportunity for the men and women tasked with this weighty responsibility to set themselves apart – to rededicate themselves to their calling and to fully comprehend what it truly means to be a servant of the people.

As the NDP reminds us, a capable developmental state cannot be created by decree: “It has to be built, brick by brick, institution by institution, and sustained and rejuvenated over time.”

Our ability to steadily acquire a high level of capability as envisaged by the NDP is a defining characteristic of what a capable developmental state should have to become an economically prosperous, socially inclusive and a well-governed state that is able to meet the needs of our people.

With best wishes,
Cyril Ramaphosa

News: From the Desk of the President

Dear Fellow South African,

The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the social, economic, business and industrial landscape of our country and countries around the world.

As we work with our social partners to develop an urgent economic recovery programme, we are determined that we should not merely return to where we were before the pandemic struck. We are instead looking at actions that will build a new, inclusive economy that creates employment and fosters sustainable growth.

An important aspect of this new economy is that it must be able to withstand the effects of climate change. A climate-resilient economy is necessary to protect jobs, ensure the sustainability of our industries, preserve our natural resources and ensure food security.

While the dramatic scaling down of human and industrial activity during COVID-19 lockdowns has been good for the environment and natural ecosystems, these activities are now resuming. The coronavirus pandemic is devastating, but unless we act now, the impact of climate change on humanity will be catastrophic.

Unless we act swiftly to significantly reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, we will be facing one state of disaster after another for many years to come.

Climate change has long been a measurable reality for South Africa. We have felt its effects in adverse weather conditions, droughts, flooding and rising temperatures.

But climate change is about much more than changing weather patterns. It impacts on water resources, food security, public health, public infrastructure, ecosystems and biodiversity. It affects the most vulnerable in society, who suffer the effects of extreme weather events and the degradation of ecosystems.

As we work to reduce our carbon emissions, we have to build resilience and reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change. It has to be factored into every aspect of government planning: from water use management to the construction of human settlements, from public transport to infrastructure, from disaster management to energy.

Similarly, nearly every key sector of our economy – from mining to construction, from agriculture to automotive manufacturing – needs to adapt to the effects of climate change.

It is to respond to this massive challenge, that Cabinet last week approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

This strategy will guide one important aspect of our climate change response. In line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change, we are moving ahead with both mitigation strategies – to reduce our carbon emissions – and adaptation strategies – to prepare our society for the effects of climate change.

As the Paris Agreement comes fully into force this year, we are committed to meeting our international responsibilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of the key instruments for this, the Climate Change Bill, is currently under consideration in NEDLAC. We will also be establishing the Presidential Climate Change Commission to coordinate our national response and implementing the carbon tax to encourage companies to reduce their emissions.

While these mitigation measures are implemented, the adaptation strategy calls for a multisectoral response to climate change that brings together government, the private sector, civil society organisations and communities.

Work is already underway in government and in the private sector to respond to climate change, with tangible projects being implemented at both national and provincial government level.

In provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape, new low-carbon technologies are being used to power public transport. Thousands of solar water heaters have been installed in public housing. The renewable energy power producer programme plays an important role in increasing the contribution of renewable energy to our electricity supply.

As we build a new economy, we cannot afford to be out of step with international moves towards green growth and green development. Our major trading partners have signalled a move towards ‘carbon border taxes’ to exclude products from those countries that they consider to be violating their climate change commitments.

Our country’s research and development activity has long engaged with the green economy.

We have already made significant advances in the waste and recycling economies. Looking ahead, the Hydrogen SA initiative has built local expertise for the hydrogen economy over a decade, with projects under way to support local manufacturing of fuel cell components. This supports the beneficiation of platinum group metals. The hydrogen economy, when linked to renewable energy, can also position South Africa as a global player in the many applications of green hydrogen.

Climate adaptation can also support infrastructure development and local production. The country can develop its own expertise in areas such as smart grids, e-mobility, smart water and sanitation solutions, ecological infrastructure and broadband connectivity.

The additional benefit of positioning our country as a significant global player in this space is that we will be able to draw on green funding sources and instruments. We already have a National Green Fund, the ‘Working for Water’ and ‘Working on Fire’ public employment programmes and the National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme. All of these support the development of new green industries and the greening of existing initiatives.

As we count the devastating cost the coronavirus pandemic has had on our economy, we must resist the temptation to relegate the critical issue of climate change to the back-burner.

Far from being an ‘added liability’ focused solely on issues of compliance, climate change adaptation is an opportunity to quicken the pace towards a sustainable economy that is just and inclusive.

We need to act now, guided by a common strategy, to combat climate change and build a new, resilient economy.

With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa

 

Government News: From the Desk of the President

Dear Fellow South African,

Corruption during a national disaster is a particularly heinous type of crime, and perpetrators are going to be dealt with decisively and harshly.

It is difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a businessperson who has heeded the call to provide lifesaving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900%.

Nor can one explain why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home.

It is impossible to discern what drives an entire family whose member stole funds meant for unemployed workers to go on a spending spree, buying cars, paying for renovations and beauty treatments, and even tombstones.

Attempting to profit from a disaster that is claiming the lives of our people every day is the action of scavengers. It is like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey.

As we find ourselves in the grip of the greatest health emergency our country has faced in over a century, we are witnessing theft by individuals and companies with no conscience.

We hear stories of alleged corruption in the procurement and deployment of personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19, of companies hiking the prices of essential items during the lockdown and of the illegal diversion of state resources meant for the vulnerable and destitute.

This insidious behavior is not the preserve of smaller companies. There are large companies, including a JSE-listed company, that have been caught, investigated, found guilty and fined for excessive pricing.

These stories have caused outrage among South Africans. They have opened up the wounds of the state capture era, where senior figures in society seemed to get away with corruption on a grand scale.

As a country, we have done much to turn our back on that era by disrupting and dismantling the networks that had infiltrated government, state companies and even our law enforcement agencies to loot public resources.

We have rebuilt vital institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority, SA Revenue Service and the Hawks. Through the establishment of bodies like the Investigating Directorate in the NPA, we have strengthened the hand of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes. And through the establishment of the SIU Special Tribunal, we have increased our capacity to get back funds stolen from the state.

But it is clear that we need to do more. And that we need to act more decisively.

As we set out to mobilise resources on an unprecedented scale to confront coronavirus and its effects on businesses, jobs and livelihoods, we put in place several measures to safeguard these funds.

These included regulations to ensure that emergency procurement of supplies and services was fair, transparent, competitive and cost effective. The Competition Commission has made effective use of regulations that prohibit unjustified price hikes to prosecute several companies for excessive pricing. The Auditor-General initiated special audits to detect and prevent the misuse of these funds.

While these measures have no doubt limited the potential for abuse to some extent, the evidence at hand now shows that they have not completely prevented it. And so, we need to take action.

Just over a week ago, I signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of goods and services during the national state of disaster.

This is a broad remit that extends across all spheres of the state and, importantly, provides for civil proceedings to recover misappropriated funds. It enables the SIU to probe each credible allegation that is made about the theft of COVID-19 funds.

I will be receiving interim reports every six weeks on the cases at various stages of investigation and prosecution. When investigations yield evidence of criminality, they will be speedily referred for prosecution.

Experience here and in many other countries shows that a multidisciplinary approach to tackling the commission of alleged criminality is needed for the fight against corruption to be successful. A broad range of investigative and prosecutorial capabilities need to be brought together under one roof.

‘Fusion centres’ that draw together different agencies for better information and intelligence sharing, to pool resources and to streamline operations are common practice in a number of countries.

We have taken this approach to detect, investigate and prosecute COVID-related corruption. A special centre has been established that brings together the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks, Crime Intelligence and the SAPS Detective Service, South African Revenue Service, Special Investigating Unit and the State Security Agency.

This strengthens our response immensely. These bodies are now working together not just to investigate individual allegations, but also establish linkages between patronage networks that are trying to hide their activities. Because of this cooperation, prosecutions should proceed more quickly and stand a better chance of success.

But corruption is a far broader problem in our society. We must take steps right now that not only safeguard COVID funds, but that also protect all public funds and all institutions from corruption now and into the future.

We must look, for example, to extend the responsibility of our multi-disciplinary team of investigators and prosecutors beyond COVID-related crimes. We should use the current approaches and methods to dramatically strengthen the fight against corruption.

Ultimately, the success of these efforts does not rely on law enforcement alone. It depends on the actions of all individuals and all formations within society – from public servants to politicians, from businesses to political parties, from Parliament to government departments. It depends on the vigilance of citizens, religious bodies, traditional leaders, professional associations, the media and many others. I therefore encourage people to “blow the whistle” should they have information about acts of malfeasance in relation to the abuse of public funds or resources.

It requires a new consciousness and new sense of accountability.

If, as public servants and political office-bearers, we claim to be serious about restoring public trust that has been severely eroded by corruption, we must avoid even the perception of conflicts of interest.

If as public servants and political office-bearers we truly care about the public whose interests we claim to represent, we must allow ordinary members of the public who have interest in doing business with government a fair chance to bid for such business opportunities, instead of passing on inside information about opportunities to our families and friends.

We already have regulations, such as annual financial disclosure, in place to discourage public servants doing business with the state. Anyone bidding for state work has to make a declaration of interest, including whether anyone connected to the bid is employed by the state.

This is clearly not enough. While everyone in South Africa has a right to engage in business activities, we are faced with the real problem of families and friends of political office-bearers or public servants receiving contracts from the state. Not all conduct of this sort is necessarily criminal, but it does contribute to a perception and a culture of nepotism, favouritism and abuse. And it undermines public confidence in the integrity of our institutions and processes.

We are determined to finally deal with the entrenched patronage networks that enable government employees to bid for state contracts through their friends and relatives.

This requires not only better laws and stronger enforcement, but also political will and social mobilisation.

We are going to change the culture in the public service, encouraging more openness and transparency, making it easier to report misuse of public funds and working more closely with civil society to combat corruption. A good example of this, is the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, which brings together civil society, health sector regulators, law enforcement agencies and government departments to fight fraud and corruption in the area of health – and which has already made much progress in investigating alleged offences.

We will overcome the coronavirus and restore the health of our country and its people. But it will never be that our triumph over this pandemic is won at the expense of our integrity.

We will not allow public funds hard-earned by loyal taxpayers or donations by patriotic companies and individuals and the international community to vanish down a black hole of corruption.

Those found to have broken the law to enrich themselves through this crisis will not get to enjoy their spoils, regardless of who they are or with whom they may be connected.

I have said that COVID-19 presents us with opportunities to change the way live, do business and govern. This moment is definitely a turning point in the fight against corruption.

We are going to act boldly and must act together.

With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa

Government News: From the Desk of the President

Dear Fellow South African,

As several parts of our country experience a surge in coronavirus infections, we are also confronted with the economic damage of this pandemic.

The most recent economic indicators show a drastic decline in economic activity and in confidence. Despite the support measures we have put in place, businesses are being forced to close and jobs are being lost.

The path to recovery will be long and difficult. And so, it needs to start now.

Despite the economic challenges we face, we must continue to work towards the achievement of economic dignity for all South Africans. This is not the time to despair but to act. It is untenable, and unacceptable, to live with an unemployment rate of 30 percent, which will soon increase. It is also impossible to build an economy built on inequality.

It is often said that South Africans do not lack for ideas. We have seen the publication of various economic recovery proposals recently, including by the governing party, organised business, civil society and independent analysts.

I am encouraged by the significant areas of agreement in these proposals. In the State of the Nation Address in February, I said that there were three things we would focus on this year. First, we were going to fix the fundamentals. Second, we would pursue new sources of growth. Third, we would ensure that our actions are underpinned by a capable state.

Many of the plans under discussion raise these fundamentals, such as reliable energy, access to broadband spectrum, competitive ports and efficient transport. Working with our social partners we must speed up the pace of implementation so that we can rebuild the base of our economy.

In all the proposals put forward in recent weeks, there is a substantial emphasis on improving execution. They all say that we should seek out pockets of excellence in the state and support and deepen them. But they also say that we must look outside the state. We need to bring together the best available local skills, whether in business, academia or civil society to support our common programme.

There is a strong commitment to a social compact – and the institutions necessary to support it – so that the reconstruction of our economy can be a shared responsibility and a shared undertaking.

With the advent of the coronavirus, we now need to pursue new sources of growth within a fundamentally different context. Many of the areas we had identified before remain relevant and urgent, such as a growing small and medium enterprise sector and an agricultural sector that delivers food security. Some sectors have taken on a new significance. We should, for example, use this opportunity to build a greener economy, with our entrepreneurs entering new fields such as hybrid cars, fuel cells, battery storage and waste beneficiation. This element has come out quite clearly in the various plans that have been released.

In the year of our chairship of the African Union, we were planning vigorously for the activation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which has been delayed by the pandemic. All social partners see the value of expanding trade in an integrated Africa, with concrete proposals on how to overcome the barriers that impede the ability of Africans to trade with one another. Our strategies to promote local production, which is a common theme across the various recovery plans, should support efforts to create regional value chains on the continent.

When we launched the economic stimulus and recovery plan nearly two years ago, we announced the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund that could blend different forms of finance to drive infrastructure development. This we identified as the flywheel of economic growth. There is now general consensus that our recovery should be led by infrastructure development and maintenance. At the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium organised by the Presidency a few weeks ago, business and government were of one mind on a new methodology to develop an infrastructure pipeline and deliver on it. Investors from the multilateral development banks, development finance institutions and the private sector all showed a strong appetite to make the necessary investments to meet South Africa’s extensive and diverse infrastructure needs.

In the coming weeks, we will work with our social partners to finalise an economic recovery programme that brings together the best of all the various proposals. The most important part of that programme must be the protection and the creation of jobs.

Analysts have estimated that this pandemic will cost the country millions of jobs. In the supplementary budget presented last month, government made provision for job preservation and job creation efforts. The job preservation efforts, such as those through the UIF and tax measures, aim to prevent job losses in the private sector.

However, if we are going to recover from the worst effects of the pandemic, we also need well-crafted public employment schemes. Creating jobs for people that add value to their communities through maintenance, care work and other services, keeps people engaged in productive activity. It helps them to retain and to develop skills. It gives many young people a chance to climb the first rung in the job market ladder. Such jobs complement employment created by businesses as they start to recover and private investment returns.

As the recovery takes hold and the world gradually adjusts to a global economy marked by COVID-19, we expect economic activity to pick up. By then, our initiatives to reform and improve the business environment will establish a firm platform for industries with high potential to flourish.

Since the onset of the pandemic in South Africa, our strategy has been to provide whatever support we can, within our constrained resources, to protect businesses and preserve jobs. Now we must move quickly towards a robust programme of reconstruction and recovery – and we must do so together.

Building on the vast areas of common ground among the proposals from social partners, we now have to put in place a clear, focused and ambitious set of measures to not only restore our economy, but to set it on a new path of inclusive and sustainable growth.

We are faced with a health, social and economic crisis of massive proportions. But we are not daunted, nor discouraged.

We will do what we must to build an economy that is resilient and dynamic, that creates work and opportunity, and that meets the needs of all our people.

We have all the ingredients for an economic recovery. Now let us work together to make it happen.

With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa

Government: From the Desk of the President

Dear Fellow South African,

The old saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ comes to mind when I think about the resilience and ingenuity shown by South Africans during the past three months.

This ingenuity is being demonstrated by young entrepreneurs as our country is battling the spread of the coronavirus that has brought about fundamental changes to our way of life and doing business.

As a number of social partners, including government, business, trade unions, community based organisations, economists and political parties, are involved in crafting a new vision for a post-COVID-19 dispensation, a new breed of young entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunities that are opening up as we seek to deal with a new normal in our lives.

The coronavirus is a dark cloud that is hanging over the lives of South Africans and the economic fortunes of our country. South Africa is not alone. Many countries are experiencing harsh economic challenges. Like many countries, we have responded through an economic and social assistance package, worth R500 billion. But we also know that we need to evolve a clear vision and strategic plan that will help us chart our way beyond the impact of COVID-19.

This vision and strategic plan will of necessity have to be a durable and effective social compact among social partners.

As much as COVID-19 hangs over our country, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. As much as we have to face enormous difficulties and challenges, such as rising unemployment and poverty, there are a number of opportunities that we need to look out for to undo the harsh consequences of coronavirus.

There are a number of South Africans who are searching for the silver lining.

I am very pleased at the combination of foresight, creativity and business acumen displayed by a number of young South Africans who are coming up with home-grown solutions to the contemporary challenges we face.

Some have started small business ventures because of personal circumstances, like losing their jobs. Others who were previously unemployed have seized the opportunity provided by the pandemic to create their own income.

The story of Cloudy Deliveries in Langa, Cape Town, is testimony to the power of a good idea. A group of youth run a bicycle delivery service ferrying goods from the shops to the homes of residents in the township. During the lockdown, they have focused their operations on doing shopping for the elderly who have been encouraged to remain at home. They earn an income and at the same time provide a much-needed service to the community.

Then there is 28-year-old Election Xitsakiso Baloyi from Mankweng in Limpopo, whose pizza-making hobby turned into a fully-fledged business after his family started posting pictures of his creations on social media. With the lockdown preventing people from eating out, he got an avalanche of queries from community members asking if he was selling his pizzas.

Now his business, Rabbit’s Pizza, started with his savings of just R1,000 and the baking pans in his kitchen, employs nine other young people and delivers not just in Mankweng but also in nearby Nwamitwa and Giyani. He says he plans to open new outlets in other rural communities in the near future, and to employ more young people in his area who are without work.

To meet the increasing demand for personal protective equipment, a number of small businesses have been established to manufacture masks, visors and face-shields to supply to businesses and communities.

Ponani Shikweni, 32, from Alexandra township in Gauteng has repurposed her linen manufacturing business to produce face masks. She now employs 35 people, most of whom are under 25. She produces more than 1,000 masks a day to order. Her business has already distributed over 20,000 cloth masks for free to residents of Alexandra.

To keep the nation’s spirits up during the lockdown, our country’s young artists and musicians have taken their talents online, resulting in new business opportunities. One such artist is 18-year-old Judy Jay, a DJ and rising star from Sekhukhune. Her watch parties during the lockdown have attracted the attention of major local and international radio stations, enabling her to promote and grow her brand.

The creative and enterprising spirit of these and many more young people that has been brought to the fore during the pandemic must be harnessed and supported.

Even in our darkest hour, we must look to these green shoots of renewal. They are the silver lining to the dark COVID-19 cloud

Our economic recovery cannot wait until the coronavirus pandemic is over. It needs to start now.

One of the defining developments during the lockdown was how businesses in the townships and rural areas came into their own as people were not able to travel around much. In more ways than one, small and medium enterprises in the townships and rural areas have been able to keep our people supplied with the daily necessities. This demonstrates the resilience of small and medium enterprises during a period of great distress in our country. The capacity and ability of these SMMEs shot to the fore.

We have seen in this pandemic how dependent urban areas are on informal food systems, and how important the informal sector is to livelihoods across the country. We have seen the grave inequalities in access to health care, to savings and even to information and connectivity.

To enable these businesses to thrive we must tackle the barriers to entrepreneurship.

The concentration of markets and capital in large firms limits the potential of small businesses. Then there is spatial inequality, which concentrates poverty in particular parts of our cities, towns and villages. Entrepreneurs in these areas find it difficult to raise the funds to launch and grow businesses and are often far away from the markets where they can sell their products.

It is not enough simply to urge individuals to take advantage of opportunities or to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit among our youth. We need instead to deliberately build township and rural economies.

As part of our effort to build a new economy out of this pandemic, we must create the conditions that will enable every individual to thrive in a society that supports, nurtures and helps them to succeed.

Small businesses present the greatest growth opportunity for our economy and are a major source of job creation. In such challenging times, when many have lost their jobs and the unemployed have found it even harder to eke out an existence, we must act with renewed urgency to support these businesses.

When it comes to the township and rural economy, this means providing access to finance for entrepreneurs and the self-employed. We have made great progress in extending support to 1,000 youth-owned businesses since the State of the Nation Address in February. We will reach this target by International Youth Day on 12 August, despite the delays caused by the lockdown.

It also means expanding access to affordable and high-speed broadband internet, and supporting new technologies – including successful aggregation platforms like SweepSouth or Kandua – which link small businesses to demand.

It means backing areas of opportunity such as in early childhood development, the food economy and the green economy.

During the lockdown, we have extended support to SMMEs in the form of loans, grants and debt restructuring. The COVID-19 UIF Relief Scheme has now disbursed R26 billion to more than 6 million workers across all types of business. The R200 billion loan guarantee scheme is being adjusted to make it easier for applicants to receive funding quickly.

Through the work of the Department of Small Business Development and its agencies, the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and other initiatives, we are placing the township and rural economy at the centre of our reconstruction effort.

Whether it is a vendor selling their wares at a taxi rank, a small internet cafe providing vital services like connectivity and printing, or home industries and mobile wagons selling food, these businesses are a lifeline to both urban and rural communities. They are a means of livelihood for their owners and more often than not employ others from the same community.

Through the Township Entrepreneurship Fund we aim to support township businesses with skills development and access to markets and infrastructure. Although its launch has been delayed by the lockdown, we will put it front and centre as we now begin the arduous task of rebuilding our economy.

International experience has shown that a country that invests in and supports small businesses stimulates economic activity and increases opportunities for self-employment. This is our path to growth.

The many innovative businesses that have been started during this pandemic have showcased the potential of our people and our young people in particular.

It is our duty as government, business and society as a whole to lend our full support to them on their journey towards self-sufficiency and financial sustainability – both to protect the jobs we have and to replace those we have lost.

At the same time, this is a rallying cry to other young people out there to take the great leap of faith into self-employment. The best businesses come from good ideas that respond to a community need.

The experiences of these young people show the importance of not letting a good opportunity go to waste; more so when there is a need for what you have to offer.

I call on young people, especially in townships, to take advantage of the opportunities on offer to guide them along the path towards entrepreneurship.

The conditions may not be ideal. The circumstances may not be perfect. But now is as good a time as ever to start. And you can be assured of our full support.

With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa: South Africa’s reckless behaviour.

But seriously, a cloth mask is not something that is difficult to get. Even your T-shirt, even your scarf, even a piece of your clothing can be put over your nose and your mouth,” President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a stern dressing-down to South Africans.

 In an unfamiliar tone, Ramaphosa delivered a sharp reprimand to South Africans who refuse to abide by Covid-19 regulations during his address to the nation on Sunday evening.

The president began by acknowledging that the storm of the coronavirus peak had arrived but had strong words against reckless behaviour, saying “we are not helpless in the face of this storm”.

A big focus of his speech was espousing behavioural change, with the president announcing that wearing masks is mandatory, with penalties for those who do not enforce it in buildings, shops and taxis.

 Owners of public buildings and public transport operators would be legally obliged to ensure people on their premises wore masks.

While the country would remain on Level 3 of the lockdown regulations, the sale and distribution of alcohol was immediately banned.

“We are by now all familiar with what we need to do to protect ourselves and others from infection. We need to wear a cloth mask that covers our nose and mouth whenever we leave home. We must continue to regularly wash our hands with soap and water or sanitiser. We must continue to clean and sanitise all surfaces in all public spaces.

“Most importantly, we must keep a safe distance – of at least 2 metres – from other people. There is now emerging evidence that the virus may also be carried in tiny particles in the air in places that are crowded, closed or have poor air circulation. For this reason, we must immediately improve the indoor environment of public places where the risk of infection is greatest.”

Ramaphosa’s address comes after weeks of criticism from his opponents in opposition parties who questioned his silence.

The National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet have considered returning all or parts of the country to a higher alert level, either to level 4 or level 5 President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation on Sunday 12 July.

The president had last addressed the nation last month when he announced a readjusted alert Level 3, which saw the sale of alcohol being reintroduced.

Ramaphosa has been criticised by some, including the EFF, who accused him of abandoning ship, and the DA called him a spectator to the ravaging effect of Covid-19.

Alcohol ban

The EFF responded to the reinstatement of the alcohol ban with a proverbial “I told you so”, while the DA said Ramaphosa was diverting attention from real issues like government’s failure to build treatment and testing capacity, News24 reported.

The ban on alcohol sales comes as a victory for Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, who called for it a week after it was reintroduced.

Other premiers weighed in, raising concern about overwhelmed public healthcare systems in various provinces.

Ramaphosa seems to be in agreement. In his address on Sunday evening, he said there is clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and intensive care units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma.

“Most of these and other trauma injuries occur at night. Therefore, as an additional measure to reduce the pressure on hospitals, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 9pm and 4am,” the president said.

The immediate ban on the sale of alcohol could become a bone of contention for Ramaphosa’s Cabinet in the coming weeks with many caught by surprise.

Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen said in response:

 The argument that alcohol trauma is putting the system under pressure is simply an excuse and cover-up for this failure. Alcohol is the scapegoat, not the reason. A curfew gives an illusion of control, when quite clearly the government has no control over the real issue, which is treatment and testing capacity. These are false narratives that should not divert us from what we need to do.”

Concessions

The president conceded that the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet have considered returning all or parts of the country to a higher alert level, either to Level 4 or Level 5, but that suggestion was proved to be moot.

“The advice we have received is that taking this step now would not necessarily achieve a significant reduction in the rate of transmission and would come at an extraordinary economic cost, putting more livelihoods at risk and potentially causing long-lasting social harm,” he said.

The biggest concession Ramaphosa made was allowing taxis to operate at 100% capacity for short distance trips. Taxis which travel further than 200km should have a maximum capacity of 70%

 

  • 1
  • 2

About Tame Times

Tame Communications (known as tameTIMES) was established in 1997. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mall...

Get in Touch