President Cyril Ramaphosa says that he is confident that the country will exit recession and return to a path of economic growth.
“It’s going to happen, it must happen,” the president said on Thursday at the Discovery Leadership Summit held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. “What gives me confidence, is the people of South Africa.”
“The world is in turmoil in a number of places. The world is in dire need not of leaders but of leadership, in need of men and women who are in business, government, the unions or in broader society, people who will provide leadership on a variety of issues that most affect the global community,” president Ramaphosa said.
These issues included poverty, inequality, youth unemployment, climate change and the challenges of narrow nationalism, terrorism, chauvinism, and intolerance in many countries.
“We have emerged from a period of turbulence and are now embarking on a new path of renewal, a new dawn, as it were. We are determined to succeed,” Ramaphosa added.
History had bequeathed to the current generation of South Africans “a devastating legacy of poverty, inequality and under-development,” he said.
“We deny people the skills, assets and opportunities to participate in a meaningful way in the economy. Over the last decade the progress we have made has been set back by a lacklustre economy, policy incoherence, inconsistency and the effects of corruption and state capture. This happened on a dramatic scale,” president Ramaphosa said.
He said in the 1990s many people came forward to provide leadership, expertise and ideas to support the Mandela-government even when they were not official leaders in the government.
Similar collaborative efforts would be required from all quarters of South Africa to turn the slow economic growth in the country.
“Economic growth is not an end in itself – it is rather a means to an end. Growth is vital to our efforts to reduce poverty, and to improve health outcomes. Growth is necessary but not sufficient to achieve a more equal society – we must strive for growth that is inclusive and sustainable,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must address the exclusion of those compatriots who were relegated to the back of the economy – mostly black people and women. It must create employment on a mass scale, bringing millions and millions of young people into the economy. We have to confront the changing nature of work, [by] preparing the workforce for the jobs of tomorrow,” he added.
The president also characterised land reform as an “absolute necessity” that would be managed through a fair and transparent process as the country sought to unlock the full potential of its people.
“Accelerated land reform will be undertaken within the framework of our Constitution,” he said, adding that it was a central element to inclusive growth in the country.
“We will not allow land grabs. As we will heal this wound [of the injustices of land dispossession] we will reach agreement that contributes to social cohesion and nation building.
“We do so because we subscribe to the notion that South Africa belongs to all who live in it rather than an elite or a particular interest group. If we say that, that enables us to subscribe to the Madiba way of doing things,” Ramaphosa added.
“I want to reconcile the hunger people have for land as well as the fears people have about land so that we find a durable and sustainable solution going forward.”