President Cyril Ramaphosa has encouraged South Africans to remain optimistic, even as “we brace against harsh winds”.
“We are a nation that perseveres, and that never gives up. We will overcome our current challenges, as surely as we did the pandemic that threatened to lay waste to our nation.
“Misfortune has tested us over the past year, but these hard times have brought to the fore once more the traits for which we are known as South Africans,” the President said in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
As 2022 draws to a close, President Ramaphosa urged the nation to reflect on what he described as a tough year for many South Africans.
In the first half of the year, the country experienced devastating floods in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the North West.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict sent shockwaves through global energy and food markets, leading to supply chain disruptions and rising prices that continue to be keenly felt, including in South Africa.
“The energy crisis has caused misery for South African households and businesses.
“The road to recovery and to building a better South Africa will be a long one, but we will get there if we act decisively and we act together,” the President said.
Economic and social recovery
Despite the electricity challenges, President Ramaphosa said the economy is recording growth.
In the third quarter of this year, real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.6%, and the size of the economy now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.
The President highlighted that major industries and sources of job creation such as agriculture, transportation, construction and finance recorded increased economic output. Exports increased by 4.2%.
“Jobs are being created again. While we haven’t recovered all the jobs lost to the pandemic, around 1.5 million new jobs were created in the last year.
“A few months ago, the Presidential Employment Stimulus reached one million participants. More than three million youth are registered on the innovative SAYouth.mobi platform, which connects them with prospective employers. We are revitalising the National Youth Service to create work opportunities for 50 000 young people,” he said.
For more than a decade, South Africa has been confronted with a shortage of electricity, with load shedding now a daily reality.
The President said that over the last year, government has taken urgent steps to remedy this dire situation by increasing the construction of new generating capacity.
“We have accelerated the procurement of renewable energy and have removed many of the regulatory hurdles to greater private investment in embedded generation.
“There is now a significant pipeline of embedded generation projects that are preparing for construction. We are working closely with Eskom to improve the performance of their fleet of power stations,” he said.
The President said that government is further undertaking far-reaching reforms to improve the capacity and competitiveness of railways and ports to open up the telecommunications industry and to improve the supply and pricing of water.
Dealing with corruption
The President reflected that this year has seen several corruption-related cases enrolled in the country’s courts, with some convictions secured.
He said that multi-disciplinary units, which bring together a range of law enforcement agencies are identifying more implicated individuals and entities and preparing cases against them.
After close to four years, the State Capture Commission concluded its work and presented its final reports to the President.
“I have submitted government’s detailed implementation plan of the commission’s recommendations to Parliament. These are by no means the only difficulties we face. Crime, gender-based violence, poverty and hunger continue to cause great misery,” he said.
Positive change in the country
Despite the many challenges the country faces, President Ramaphosa said that we should not make light of the change that is taking place in the country.
“We are seeing the pride of young people, who would otherwise be unemployed, being restored as they work as education assistants, conservationists and small-scale farmers.
“We are seeing commuters getting onto new trains to ferry them to work on lines that were closed for years. We are seeing new factories being built and existing ones being expanded by investors who see this country as a favourable place to do business,” the President said.
With this difficult year coming to an end and several challenges still not resolved, the President urged South Africans to keep closely focused on what needs to be done to make next year better.
He said the events of the last few years continue to cast a long shadow, with the global COVID-19 pandemic severely damaging an already struggling economy and public unrest causing loss of human life and livelihoods.
Despite this, the President said there is “good reason to believe things are getting better”.
“Our great country will rise above adversity, as it has done so many times in the past. Two years ago, when we confronted the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19, I said that if we act decisively and together, the pandemic will pass. It has indeed passed, as will the current misfortunes we are experiencing.
“We are more than capable of bringing about the recovery our country needs,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za