Ramaphosa expects SOEs to pump R420bn into economy in next five years

24 May 2018 - 16:14 By Thabo Mokone
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Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told Parliament that state-owned companies have committed to investing more than R420-billion in the economy in the next five years.

Ramphosa made the announcement while responding to concerns raised by opposition parties during his budget vote debate held in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa has also rejected criticism by EFF leader Julius Malema‚ who on Wednesday slammed the newly formed investment team as nothing but the reincarnation of the "1996 class project".

"The 1996 class project" is a term used in political circles to refer to the economic policies introduced by the ANC shortly after it came into power‚ which were slammed as too elitist and not in the interest of the poor.

The investment team set up in April consists of‚ among others‚ former Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree‚ former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former finance minister Trevor Manuel‚ who has previously been accused of being one of the champions of the “1996 class project".

But Ramaphosa has rejected the criticism‚ saying the investment team was already doing good work for the country and has helped unlock investment opportunities to the tune of billions of rand in the next five years.

He said these would go a long way in stimulating the economy and job creation.

"We're seeking to mobilise investment from within SA‚ from elsewhere in the African continent‚ from Asia‚ from Middle East and the Americas. We're seeking investment from private companies‚ from sovereign wealth funds and from public entities‚" said the president.

"This is not a 1996 class project. This is about addressing unemployment in this country. We have had several meetings with the CEOs of some of this country’s larger state-owned companies‚ where they have given us an indication of their investment plans over the coming years.

"They have informed us that over the next five years‚ they expect to invest a total of R420-billion into the South African economy.

"We are seeking investment that expands the industrial capacity of our economy‚ that creates jobs on an unprecedented scale and that lifts millions of our people out of poverty.

"This is not an elite project. This is a revolutionary project. It is revolutionary because – taken together with the other programmes of this government – it promises to fundamentally alter the economic conditions of the majority of South Africans. Investment in itself is not a guarantor of growth‚ nor of job creation. But without investment‚ neither of these will be possible.”

Turning to the thorny issue of land reform and redistribution‚ Ramaphosa accused Malema and DA leader Mmusi Maimane of playing "strawman politics".

He said they had both deliberately distorted the stance of the ANC-led government on the issue of land.

"We will not be diverted from the path that we are on. We will not shy away from the debate. We will engage‚ we will consult and we will seek to build consensus. But we will not compromise on our determination to resolve the land question in this country‚ once and for all.

"The restoration of the land to the poor and dispossessed through a constitutionally-mandated programme of redress and reform is a revolutionary act. The illegal occupation of land is not."

On tackling violent and organised crime‚ Ramaphosa said he had instructed the SAPS to "conduct preventative crime intelligence-driven operations" to deal with murders‚ armed robberies and cash heists.

Ramaphosa concluded his speech on a lighter note and responded to Malema's complaint about the absence of first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe from public engagements.

"Lastly‚ and it’s a pity Honourable Malema is not here. I wish to thank my family and my wife especially and to inform Honourable Malema that the first lady had a knee operation almost three months ago…she has not been able to walk properly for the past three months‚ and later she started walking on crutches and now she has started walking on operated foot.

"So Honourable Malema there's nothing wrong‚ she has just not been well. She will soon be making her contribution particularly in her area of speciality‚ early childhood development."

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