‘Turning tide of corruption’

2018-02-19 10:12
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town on Friday. (Reuters)

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Newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday outlined bold initiatives aimed at rejuvenating the economy, addressing unemployment and fighting corruption anchored on a “Now is the time!” mantra.

Addressing Members of Parliament during his maiden State of the National Address (Sona) in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa made it clear that the challenges faced by the country needed co-operative efforts from government, business, labour and society at large.

“We are one people, committed to work together to find jobs for our youth; to build factories and roads, houses and clinics; to prepare our children for a world of change and progress; to build cities and towns where families may be safe, productive and content.

“We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people,” he said.

With the country’s unemployment rate currently hovering at around 26%, Ramaphosa said the situation required urgent intervention.

“One of the initiatives will be to convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.

“The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded,” he said.

On the lack of investment that had been one of the reasons for slow economic growth and high unemployment, Ramaphosa said government will soon engage in a major push to attract investors.

“To this end, we will organise an Investment Conference in the next three months, targeting both domestic and international investors, to market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country,” he said.

The country’s tourism industry, which currently employs more 700 000 people, has been identified by government as one of the sectors where growth can take place.

“There is no reason why it can’t double in size ... we have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people,” Ramaphosa said.

On good governance, Ramaphosa warned those involved in corruption that the government will deal harshly with the scourge.

“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions. The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption,” he said, stressing that those involved in corruption will be jailed.

“These SOEs [state-owned enterprises] cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties, and we will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures.

“We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.

“We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the auditor-general to strengthen external audit processes,” he said.

Ramaphosa also pledged to cut the number of ministers in his Cabinet.

To bolster the presidency’s intellectual capacity, Ramaphosa announced that he will soon be appointing a Presidential Advisory Council comprising experts from business, labour and government.

On free tertiary education announced by former president Jacob Zuma late last year, Ramaphosa said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba would give details during the upcoming Budget speech on how the programme would be financed.

The ANC national conference that took place in December last year endorsed the expropriation without compensation land policy.

Ramaphosa said the policy will be implemented in such a way that it boosts agricultural output.

Ramaphosa also made it clear government would intervene to stabilise state institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Revenue Service, both of which are currently facing leadership challenges.

'A day of renewal pf new beginings'

“As I conclude, allow me to recall the words of the late great Bra Hugh Masekela.

“In his song, Thuma Mina, he anticipated a day of renewal, of new beginnings.

“He sang:

‘I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around

When they triumph over poverty

I wanna be there when the people win the battle against Aids

I wanna lend a hand

I wanna be there for the alcoholic

I wanna be there for the drug addict

I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse

I wanna lend a hand

Send me.’

“We are at a moment in the history of our nation when the people, through their determination, have started to turn the country around.

“We can envisage the triumph over poverty, we can see the end of the battle against Aids. Now is the time to lend a hand.

“Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’.

“Now is the time for all of us to work together, in honour of Nelson Mandela, to build a new, better South Africa for all.

“I thank you.”

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  pietermaritzburg  |  sona

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