So far, we have administered 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Consequently, nearly 42% of all adults and 60% of everyone over 50 is fully vaccinated.
Last year, our unemployment rate reached its highest recorded level. Unemployment has been caused by low growth, which has, in turn, resulted from a long-term decline in investment.
GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE JOBS
We have been taking extraordinary measures to enable businesses to grow and create jobs alongside expanded public employment and social protection. We all know that government does not create jobs.
Business creates jobs. Around 80% of all the people employed in South Africa are employed in the private sector.
SOUTH AFRICA NEEDS A NEW CONSENSUS
To address the immediate crisis and to create conditions for long-lasting stability and development, to achieve this, South Africa needs a new consensus. A consensus that is born out of a common understanding of our current challenging situation and a recognition of the need to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Several new energy generation projects will be coming online over the next few years. The same promise has been made for the last few years.
MODERNISING VISA PROCESS
We are streamlining and modernising the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work. As we committed last year, the eVisa system has now been launched in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria. Another old promise. What is new is the comprehensive review of the work visa system led by a former Director-General of Home Affairs, Mavuso Msimang.
A comprehensive turnaround plan is being implemented to streamline the process for water use license applications. The target is to clear the backlog of applications by June 2022 and to process 80% of all applications within 90 days during the next financial year.
Legislation has been prepared for the establishment of the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency and will be published for public comment within the next month.
NEW SMALL BUSINESS LOAN SCHEME
A new, redesigned loan guarantee scheme is being introduced to enable small businesses to bounce back from the pandemic and civic unrest.
This new bounce-back scheme incorporates the lessons from the previous loan guarantee scheme. It will involve development finance institutions and non-bank SME providers in offering finance, expanding the types of financing available and adjust eligibility criteria to encourage greater uptake.
CUTTING RED TAPE FOR BUSINESS
We are reviewing the Business Act – alongside a broader review of legislation that affects SMMEs – to reduce the regulatory burden on informal businesses. There are too many regulations in this country that are unduly complicated, costly and difficult to comply with. This prevents companies from growing and creating jobs. I have therefore appointed Sipho Nkosi to head up a team in my office to cut red tape across government.
Many children still have to brave overflowing rivers to reach schools and motorists have to battle impassable roads to reach the next town. We are therefore upscaling the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme to deliver 95 bridges a year from the current 14.
INVESTMENT CONFERENCE NEXT MONTH
Nearly four years ago, we set ourselves a target of mobilising R1.2 trillion in new investment over five years. By the time of the third South Africa Investment Conference in November 2020, we had reached R776 billion in investment commitments. Next month, on the March 24, we will be holding the fourth South Africa Investment Conference in Johannesburg.
REGULATING SALE OF SCRAP METALS
The damage caused by the theft of scrap metal and cable on our infrastructure like electricity, trains and other vital services is enormous. We will take decisive steps this year both through improved law enforcement and by considering further measures to address the sale or export of such scrap metal.
FINALISING MINING EXPLORATION STRATEGY
To attract investors into mining the minerals needed in the new global economy, we will soon be finalising our mining exploration strategy.
FORMALISING CANNABIS INDUSTRY
The hemp and cannabis sector has the potential to create more than 130 000 new jobs.
We are therefore streamlining the regulatory processes so that the hemp and cannabis sector can thrive like it is in other countries such as Lesotho.
I have appointed Daniel Mminele, a former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, as head of the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team to lead the mobilisation of funds for our just transition.
SOCIAL EMPLOYMENT FUND
The Social Employment Fund will create a further 50 000 work opportunities using the capability of organisations beyond government, in areas such as urban agriculture, early childhood development, public art and tackling gender-based violence.
EXPAND CRITERIA FOR EMPLOYMENT TAX INCENTIVE
To encourage hiring by smaller businesses, we will be increasing the value and expanding the criteria for participation in the Employment Tax Incentive. For several years, this has been an effective way to encourage companies to hire new work seekers. The changes to the incentive will make it easier for small businesses in particular to hire young people.
EXTEND R350 GRANT
We will extend the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant for one further year, to the end of March 2023. During this time, we will engage in broad consultations and detailed technical work to identify the best options to replace this grant.
FILL VACANCIES IN SECURITY CLUSTER
We will begin immediately by filling critical vacancies and addressing positions affected by suspensions in the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence. We will be appointing a new head of the Investigating Directorate following the departure of Advocate Hermione Cronje from that position. We will soon be announcing leadership changes in a number of security agencies to strengthen our security structures.
HIRE EXTRA 12 000 POLICE OFFICERS
We will make resources available to recruit and train an additional 12 000 new police personnel to ensure that the SAPS urgently gets the capacity it needs.