'State of SA's economy keeps me up at night' - Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says he wants to centralise government's approach to economic matters. 
  • He denies not having faith in his own Cabinet, saying "every president has advisors" - but admits the country's economic dilemmas keep him up at night. 
  • Asked about extradition of those implicated in the Zondo Commission report, he said government was engaging with the United Arab Emirates through the National Prosecuting Authority, but that it was not yet clear what the outcome of those talks would be. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his decision to appoint special advisors in the Presidency on matters related to the economy, saying he was looking to centralise government's policy approach to different areas.

Ramaphosa was addressing journalists in Cape Town after he replied to Parliament's State of The Nation Address (SONA) debate at the Cape Town City Hall. At the address last Thursday, Ramaphosa announced a team in the Presidency, headed by Sasol chair Sipho Nkosi, to combat red tape.

Some opposition MPs charged that this appointment and others like it were made because Ramaphosa did not trust his own Cabinet, but did not have enough power within the ANC to remove his ministers.

But Ramaphosa said there was no reason to fear.

"Every president has advisors. The first line is Cabinet, as I have to work with a number of colleagues and I am directed to appoint ministers and they are my advisors. They have set jobs as they are the kingpins of advisory. They are in the inner circle," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said the Presidency also had its director-general Phindile Baleni work with other directors-general in the government system to assess policy formulation and policy implementation in the state.

"There is then a third layer of advisors who advise the president on an ongoing basis on various specific issues. They knit together the work of government; tie in all governments to work together through the Presidency.

"That is why we established Operation Vulindlela," Ramaphosa said.

In a frank moment during the press engagement, Ramaphosa acknowledged that the state of South Africa's economy and unemployment, which is currently seeing its highest levels on record, concerned him.

"The state of our economy keeps me up at night. The state of our employment with 11 million people out of work keeps me up at night and it concerns me a great deal," Ramaphosa said.

Next steps on state capture

Asked about the State Capture Inquiry report, Ramaphosa said government was engaging with the United Arab Emirates through the National Prosecuting Authority to cooperate on the possibility of extraditing individuals at the centre of state capture.

"I don't not have full line of sight on where those discussions are, but we will continue to engage with them," he said.

Ramaphosa said once the full State Capture Inquiry report is released, government would look at various outcomes to improve the management of entities and the ability of the state to exercise oversight.

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