President Cyril Ramaphosa says that structural reforms are indirect and take a long time to filter through into outcomes – but they are taking place, and they are yielding results.
Writing in his weekly letter to the public, the president said that he understood the many frustrations and levels of impatience being expressed by the country amid continued blackouts and the many other challenges blocking progress.
However, he said that the immediacy of these issues often blinds people to the long-term plans and progress being made.
“We have focused on reforms that are sustainable and transformative rather than temporary solutions that won’t last,” he said.
“It is understandable that the severity of the challenges the country is facing at this time gives rise to frustration and impatience. Given the persistence of load shedding, for example, few people are able to contemplate the impact of a transformed energy landscape.
“While we are making progress towards ending load shedding, transforming the electricity market to make it more competitive and cost-effective is critical to the country’s future.”
The president highlighted the various progress points raised around Operation Vulindlela – particularly those relating to energy production, South Africa’s biggest hurdle – but insisted that the real goal is long-term.
Ramaphosa said progress was being made in the energy sector, but flagged the freight and logistics system as being the second biggest drag on the country after energy.
He also noted that progress was being made in telecommunications, water and sanitation and with immigration reform to address the various crises hitting the country from those sectors.
- Energy: New capacity is in the pipeline, rooftop solar is rolling out, Eskom is being unbundled, and its finances are being supported
- Freight: Transnet is establishing an independent infrastructure manager; government is partnering with private business; and a National Logistics Crisis Committee has been established
- Telecoms: The spectrum auction has been completed; a switch-off date for analogue TV will be published soon
- Water: The Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop water quality monitoring system has been reinstated; applications are being processed faster; private sector involvement is growing
- Immigration: Home Affairs is working on several reforms to make its processes better
“The reforms being implemented now will have a real effect,” he said.
“Structural reforms are often indirect. As a 2004 paper from the International Monetary Fund rightly notes, they are hard to sell: ‘The gains from reform are never as clear to the wider public as they are to economists.’
“Reforms are nonetheless critical if we are to achieve the scale of economic growth that is needed by our country at this difficult time.”
He said the government will stick to its goals and will pursue them with “consistency and perspective”, not with “temporary, unsustainable solutions”.