The coronavirus, cannabis laws and other issues Ramaphosa is looking at right now

 ·3 Mar 2020

The Presidential Working Committee (PWC) on the Jobs Summit has received a report on South Africa’s state of preparedness as the world battles the outbreak of Coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the sixth monthly meeting of the PWC at NEDLAC House, Johannesburg, on Monday.

The President expressed confidence in the country’s health sector which has put in place the necessary measures to manage and contain the virus should it present itself within the country.

“Whilst appreciating the work done by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to date, the President has also urged ongoing vigilance at all our ports of entry to ensure that the necessary precautions are undertaken to keep all people in South Africa safe,” said the Presidency in statement.

The working committee was established to fast-track the implementation of the agreements made at the Jobs Summit in 2018 to accelerate job creation and stem the tide of job losses and bring together leaders of government, communities, organised business and labour.

Economic potential of cannabis

The meeting further received a presentation on unlocking the economic potential of cannabis and hemp.

Updates were given on processes underway to consolidate an integrated government approach to harnessing the economic opportunities offered by hemp and cannabis.

The meeting noted the proposed deadlines for finalising the rescheduling of hemp and cannabis, the development of a value chain and master plan as well as reviewing the current legal position and drafting of a cannabis bill.

“Government is confident that the cannabis and hemp sector has the prospect for significant job creation, SME development, broadening black economic empowerment as well as expanding the value chain to including processing and downstream manufacturing,” said the Presidency.

Digital migration

The PWC also noted the progress made towards broadcasting digital migration and the eventual analogue switch off.

The meeting noted that while a significant number of decoder stock has already been installed in households, more needed to be done to fast track the process and thus welcomed the intention to move to a hybrid approach which would include decoders and integrated digital television sets.

“This next phase of the roll out is to ensure mass availability of low cost digital decoders in the market to drive entrepreneurship and local economic development. The success of this phase will rely on collaboration with the manufacturing and retail sectors.

“The meeting has urged government to further accelerate this progress given the catalytic impact it, coupled with the release of high demand spectrum, will have on the economy,” read the statement.

Completion of this process is set to have a significant impact on bridging the digital divide, and easing the cost of doing business through lowering costs of data.

Energy challenges

A report on the Eskom Social Compact, which seeks to bring together all social partners in finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting Eskom, was also tabled for discussion.

“The compact demonstrates unprecedented commitment from the social partners to take the necessary actions to secure the country’s energy needs. There is ongoing engagement on this issue with an agreement expected to be finalised by the end of March 2020,” said the Presidency.

Job creation

The meeting also noted the progress made to deliver on the commitments made to enable job creation and further highlighted the areas where social partners are effectively collaborating towards the realisation of key commitments.

“Key updates over the period under review include jobs saved, the number of people mentored and trained and interventions delivered through the Temporary Employee-Employer Relief Scheme (TERS).

The President has urged more interventions to give further traction to job creation efforts,” said the Presidency.

Read: South Africa enters technical recession as fourth quarter GDP sinks

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