- Ramaphosa focused on economic "green shoots" in his response to the debate on the Presidency's budget vote speech.
- He didn't address the vaccine rollout or Zweli Mkhize, who drew much criticism during the debate.
- According to the president, the fight against corruption was gathering momentum.
Responding to the debate on the Presidency's budget vote, President Cyril Ramaphosa focused on the "green shoots" emerging from the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Much of Ramaphosa's response in the National Assembly on Thursday dealt with positive developments on the economic front.
"As Covid-19 continues to spread within our communities, and as it continues to take people's lives, we cannot yet say that we have extinguished the flames of this pandemic.
"But what we can say is that we are now seeing some of the green shoots of recovery. We are now seeing signs that the focus of this administration on economic reform – which began before the pandemic – is steadily but surely paying off," Ramaphosa said.
During the debate on Wednesday, the opposition focused on the government's sluggish vaccine rollout and the hot water Health Minister Zweli Mkhize finds himself in over the Digital Vibes contract.
Ramaphosa spoke about these matters in his opening speech on Wednesday, but not in his response on Thursday.
However, Ramaphosa couldn't sidestep corruption completely.
He listed corruption as one of the aspects against which the Presidency's budget should be understood.
"We must – as we have done – acknowledge that there have been failures of governance in several municipalities, in departments and in state-owned entities.
"As the NPC Diagnostic Report identified, development has been constrained by poor planning and inadequate coordination," Ramaphosa said.
"And perhaps the most debilitating of factors has been corruption, nepotism and patronage in many parts of the state and the private sector.
"Corruption is not a victimless crime. It deprives the poor of resources that are rightfully theirs, it starves the economy of investment, in that those who would want to invest in our economy are kept away by the stench of corruption. It leads to a degradation of public infrastructure and services, and, tragically, it ultimately costs lives."
He said the fight against corruption is gathering momentum because of "improved state capacity and more effective collaboration".
"Through the Special Tribunal which we established, millions in stolen funds have been recouped.
"Through the work of other entities, like the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the NPA's Investigating Directorate, and the Hawks Clean Audit Task Team, there have been arrests, asset forfeitures and the freezing of bank accounts," Ramaphosa added.
"This progress is the direct result of the decision of this administration to drive a collaborative and inter-agency approach that allows all law-enforcement agencies to work together and share information."
Ramaphosa concluded as he started – viewing the glass as half full rather than half empty.
"Difficult though the past year has been, our economy has been resilient and durable, as have the South African people.
"Like the green shoots of nature, these developments are a promise, a sign of hope. It is our responsibility – each and every one of us, in this House and across this country – to nurture these green shoots, to give them water and sunshine and nourishment."