President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that government will not be able to fix South Africa’s economic woes on its own.
This comes as the country faces possible downgrades due to low economic growth, a growing debt burden and upward revision of the fiscal deficit.
In November last year, ratings agency Moody’s maintained its investment-grade rating on South Africa, but changed the country’s sovereign credit rating outlook from stable to negative.
Speaking during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening in Parliament, Ramaphosa said the country needed to be frank and admit that the government could not solve the country’s economic challenges alone.
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“Even if we were to marshal every single resource at our disposal, and engage on a huge expenditure of public funds, we would not alone be able to guarantee employment to the millions of people who are out of work,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that, through the Jobs Summit, the government had brought labour, business and communities together to find solutions to the unemployment crisis. He added that all stakeholders would continue to meet at the beginning of every month to remove blockages and drive interventions that would save and create jobs.
Procurement of emergency power
Addressing Eskom, he said government would start the procurement of emergency power from projects that could deliver electricity into the grid within three to 12 months from approval. He added that municipalities would be able to procure their own power from independent power producers, to much applause from the DA MPs.
Last year, the DA in the City of Cape Town went to the courts to seek permission to buy electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs), due to the ongoing blackouts in the country.
Acting Mayor Ian Neilson told News24 earlier that the City was seeking permission from the judge president of the Gauteng High Court for an expedited hearing on its energy case, asking the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to allow it to buy energy from the IPPs.
Ramaphosa also promised to modernise the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) rail network by investing R1.4bn in the central line in the Western Cape and the Mabopane line in Pretoria.
He skimmed through intervention measures for the beleaguered South African Airways (SAA) which was placed under business rescue, only saying that the business rescue practitioners were expected to unveil their plans for restructuring the airline in the next few weeks.
On education, he said government would build nine TVET college campuses in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and a new science and technology university in the City of Ekurhuleni.
Another great leap for the Department of Education would be the introduction of two new subjects, coding and robotics, he said. These two subjects would be introduced to 200 primary schools, becoming fully implemented in 2022.