Ramaphosa worried about retrenchments in SA

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to the parliament in Cape Town for the 2019 State of the Nation address (NASIEF MANIE/AFP/Getty Images)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to the parliament in Cape Town for the 2019 State of the Nation address (NASIEF MANIE/AFP/Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has directed Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and Minister of Trade, Industry and Economic Development Ebrahim Patel to intervene on a go-slow at South Africa’s ports, he told the National Assembly in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Ramaphosa was addressing Members of Parliament during his budget vote for the office of the Presidency. His speech focused on people-centred development and the importance of using state owned entities as catalysts for growth and development.

Transnet staff embarked on a go-slow at the Ngqura Container Terminal in Port Elizabeth before it obtained an interdict to stop a strike by its employees there.

Ramaphosa said that Cabinet was concerned at reports of a go-slow at the ports, particularly in the Eastern Cape, where operations nearly ground to a halt.

'We cannot fail to meet obligations'

"I have directed Ministers Gordhan and Patel to intervene and get our goods to their export destinations urgently. We cannot aim to grow an economy on the basis of exporting value-added products and then fail to meet our obligations to get goods to international markets safely and on time," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said he was also concerned about growing reports of planned retrenchments by businesses in SA.

"We are engaging stakeholders and will be considering all available options to help our firms to retain as many jobs as possible without compromising their viability," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said South Africans must all agree that meaningful economic growth is paramount and that the country needs to get business, labour, government and society’s commitment to this end.

"To achieve this, we will need to make tough choices on everything from labour legislation and SOEs to policies on the NHI, the national minimum wage and the Reserve Bank," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said government aimed to increase its focus on matters like local economic development, so that departments of state can account for how they will create jobs and addressing service delivery at a provincial and local government level. 

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