Ramaphosa promises ‘action and not just words and promises’

Staff Writer | May 26, 2019
President Cyril Ramaphosa set a 25-year target for eradicating poverty in South Africa in his inaugural address at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has raised the bar for the performance of his administration – and the judgement of his critics – in assuring South Africans that ‘there will be action’ and ‘not just words and promises’.

The president said: ‘The challenges that we face are real. But they are not insurmountable. They can be solved. And we are going to solve them.’

Promising that a ‘new era has dawned in our country’, he assured the crowd at the lavish inaugural ceremony: ‘South Africans want action and not just words and promises. And there will be action. It is through our actions now that we will give form to the society for which so many have fought and sacrificed and for which all of us yearn.’

He urged South Africa to join him in declaring ‘our shared determination that we shall end poverty … within a generation. Let us declare that when we gather to celebrate the 50th year of our freedom there shall no longer be any person in this land who is unable to meet their basic needs.’

In an evident signal to the notoriously corrupt in his own African National Congress ranks, Ramaphosa said: ‘In recent times, our people have watched as some of those in whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation of power and riches. They have seen some of the very institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered.’

What was needed, the president said, was ‘a compact for growth and economic opportunity’, for ‘an efficient, capable and ethical state … free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public’. 

He went on: ‘We must be a society that values excellence, rewards effort and hard work and rejects mediocrity. We must be a society that values its young people by creating a conducive environment for them to gain skills and be productively employed to develop our country.’

It was time for South Africa ‘to make the future we yearn for’. 

‘It is through our actions now that we will determine our destiny,’ he said. 

IRR analysis shows that South Africa needs to grow at 5% to 6% a year for 20 years to reduce unemployment (presently 27.6%) to around 10%. It also shows that to lift the growth rate from its current low level of 1% will require substantial structural reform in economic, labour and empowerment policy to enable the country to attract investment and stimulate private sector-led growth. A major investment deterrent, to which the government remains committed, is the policy of expropriation without compensation coupled with an amendment to the constitution that risks eroding property rights across the economy. Economic growth will also depend on reversing chronic dysfunction in South Africa’s schools, which presently deepens rather than relieves disadvantage.


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