President Cyril Ramaphosa is publishing a new weekly open letter to the public titled ‘From the desk of the President’.
Ramaphosa said that he will use the letter to discuss some of the issues that interest and concern South Africans, and talk about the work government is doing to tackle these issues.
In his first letter published on Monday (30 September), the president noted that residents and business leaders are deeply concerned about the state of the economy and the stubbornly high rates of unemployment.
“After a decade of low growth and deepening poverty, people are looking for signs of progress in tackling the many challenges confronting our country,” he said.
“These concerns are real. This year, the economy will record growth that is lower than expected (and much lower than what we need). Government finances are stretched about as far as they can go, and several industries are looking at retrenching workers.”
Ramaphosa added that much of the country’s confidence has dissipated as the reality of the country’s problems become clearer.
“This confidence was born out of the hope that we would quickly undo the damage that was done over a number of years. Implementing change does take time,” he said.
Moving the needle
Ramaphosa said that the country now has the common task of ‘rebuilding confidence’, based not merely on hope and expectation of change, but on concrete things that make a difference in the economy.
This will include real actions that ‘move the needle’, he said.
“Most of the people I speak to recognise that we have made progress in turning our country around,” he said.
“The changes that have taken place in many state-owned enterprises and in bodies like the NPA, SARS, the police and the State Security Agency give people confidence that we can restore the credibility and integrity of the State. It shows that we are serious about tackling corruption and ending state capture.”
Ramaphosa said that the country is also making economic progress – including a number of reforms to create a more investor-friendly environment, a new mining charter, and relaxed visa policies.
“Building on the stimulus and recovery plan, the government will finalise a clear economic growth strategy within the next few weeks,” he said.
“This strategy will draw on the many valuable contributions that have been made by South Africans on the discussion paper released by National Treasury.”
While Ramaphosa acknowledged that the government’s finances are under great strain, he indicated that he will continue to push forward on a number of reforms.
“It is clear that, as a country, we are taking firm action to grow the economy and create jobs. But we need to do more to turn things around. We need to finalise a comprehensive growth strategy that takes all the work being done to another level,” he sai.d
“I am certain that with the active involvement of all sectors of society, this will be achieved.
“South Africans are ready to rise to the challenge.”