In a speech delivered at a time of great economic difficulty, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced seven priorities that will fast track South Africa’s path to prosperity.
Delivering his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday evening, the President said the time for idle talk was now over — everything comes down to implementation if the country is to realise the vision of the National Development Plan (NDP).
“Unless we take extraordinary measures, we will not realise Vision 2030. This means that we need to prioritise. We need to focus on those actions that will have the greatest impact, actions that will catalyse faster movement forward, both in the immediate term and over the next 10 years.
“Now is the time to focus on implementation. It is time to make choices. Some of these choices may be difficult and some may not please everyone,” he said.
The President said that in an economy that is not growing and at a time when public finances are limited, government will not be able to do everything in one go.
Announcing the seven bold priorities, he said the focus will be on:
– Economic transformation and job creation;
– Education, skills and health;
– Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services;
– Spatial integration, human settlements and local government;
– Social cohesion and safe communities;
– A capable, ethical and developmental state and
– A better Africa and World.
The President said all the country’s programmes and policies across all departments and agencies will be directed in pursuit of these overarching tasks.
“At the same time, we must restore the National Development Plan to its place at the centre of our national effort, to make it alive, to make it part of the lived experience of the South African people,” he said.
The South Africa we want
The President said as the country enters the next 25 years of democracy, there was a need to proclaim a bold and ambitious goal – a unifying purpose – to which everyone dedicates their resources and energies.
“As we enter the last decade of Vision 2030, let us even more clearly define the South Africa we want and agree on the concrete actions we need to achieve them.
“To ensure that our efforts are directed, I am suggesting that within the priorities of this administration, we agree on five fundamental goals for the next decade,” he said.
The President said some of the goals — aimed at tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment, the pillars of the National Development Plan – will mean that:
– No person in South Africa will go hungry.
– The economy will grow at a much faster rate than the population.
– Two million more young people will be in employment.
– Schools will have better educational outcomes and every 10-year-old will be able to read for meaning.
– Violent crime will be halved.
“Let us make these commitments now – to ourselves and to each other – knowing that they will stretch our resources and capabilities, but understanding that if we achieve these five goals, we will have fundamentally transformed our society.
“We set these ambitious goals not despite the severe difficulties of the present, but because of them.
“We set these goals so that the decisions we take now are bolder and we act with greater urgency,” he said.
Government to revitalize and expand productive sectors
The President said, meanwhile, that in order to meet desirable growth targets, government will rebuild the foundations of the economy by revitalising and expanding the productive sectors.
He said this requires the country to reimagine its industrial strategy to unleash private investment and energise the State to boost economic inclusion.
“We will give priority attention to the economic sectors that have the greatest potential for growth.
“Drawing on our successes in the automotive sector, we will implement master plans developed with business and labour in industries like clothing and textiles, gas, chemicals and plastics, renewables, and steel and metals fabrication sectors,” he said.
The President said government will also pursue key interventions, including a plan to expand the agriculture and agro-processing sector, by supporting key value chains and products, developing new markets and reducing our reliance on agricultural imports.
“We will bolster the mining industry by developing markets for South African minerals through targeted beneficiation, reduced costs of inputs, and increased research and development.
“Through spatial interventions like special economic zones, reviving local industrial parks, business centres, digital hubs and township and village enterprises, we will bring economic development to local areas. We will also focus on small medium enterprises in our cities, townships and rural areas and create market places where they trade their products,” he said.