Ramaphosa vows to rebuild dissipating confidence in economy

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FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the opening day of the International Labour Organization's annual labour conference in Geneva, Switzerland June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Monday to rebuild South Africans’ confidence in the economy, based not merely on hope or expectation of change, but on concrete things.

South Africans want concrete things that can make a difference in the economy and real actions that “move the needle,” the president said in his first weekly message “From the Desk of the President,” a new platform through which the president said, “I will discuss some of the issues that interest and concern South Africans, and talk about the work we are doing in government to tackle these issues.”

After a decade of low growth and deepening poverty, people are looking for signs of progress in tackling the many challenges confronting the country, the president said.

This year the economy will record growth lower than expected, with the government’s finances being stretched and several industries looking at retrenching workers, he said.

South Africa’s GDP growth forecast for 2019 has been revised by the National Treasury to 1.5 percent, from an estimated 1.7 percent in 2018.

“Much of the confidence that the country had 20 months ago has dissipated as the reality of the problems we face became clearer,” he added.

The important issue is that the government should move in a determined way to effect change while remaining irrevocably committed to rooting out state capture, corruption and malfeasance, Ramaphosa said.

South Africans want to change the narrative of doubt to a narrative of opportunity not through clever spin, but through action, he added.

As part of efforts to rebuild confidence, funds have been redirected to stimulate economic activity in areas where the majority of South Africans live, Ramaphosa said.

These include finance to support black commercial farmers, the revitalization of industrial parks in townships and the establishment of a Township Economy Fund.

The government is also increasing the value of goods and services it procures from small business and cooperatives, Ramaphosa said.

Much work is underway to improve the ease and reduce the cost of doing business, as are efforts to restructure state-owned enterprises and ensure that they perform better in meeting the country’s needs, the president said.

South Africa is taking firm action to grow the economy and create jobs, he said.

Building on the stimulus and recovery plan, the government will finalize a clear economic growth strategy within the next few weeks, the president promised.

“I am certain that with the active involvement of all sectors of society, this will be achieved,” Ramaphosa said.

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