RATE IT: Seven of Ramaphosa’s key Sona debate responses

President Ramaphosa said while employment by the state had increased, the private sector remains the main driver of job creation

17 February 2022 - 12:00
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the Sona debate on Wednesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the Sona debate on Wednesday.
Image: GCIS

Alleviating youth unemployment, poverty and reducing red tape for small businesses to ensure they are able to access funding — these are some of the successes President Cyril Ramaphosa said his government has achieved.

The president was responding to MPs from opposition parties who debated his state of the nation address on Monday and Tuesday.

Addressing MPs at the Cape Town City Hall, the president addressed criticism of his stance on improving conditions in the economy to ensure the private sector is able to create more jobs, saying his critics were advancing self-serving narratives. 

He said while employment of South Africans by the state had increased between 2002 and 2017, the private sector was responsible for the employment of a huge chunk of the population. 

Here are seven talking points from his response: 

SA responded effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic despite economic constraints

Ramaphosa said in less than a year government’s response to the pandemic extensively transformed the health system.

“Constructing new hospital bed capacity in many locations, deploying dedicated health workers to care for the sick throughout the country and administering more than 30-million Covid-19 vaccine doses to over 18-million people.”

Social grants

The president said the Covid-19 social relief of distress grant and the temporary increases in child grants benefited millions and helped alleviate poverty at one of the worst times. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we increased social grant payments and, within only a few weeks, established a brand new grant that initially reached six-million South Africans and now reaches some 10-million South Africans.”

Support for businesses 

Ramaphosa said the government spent nearly 10% of the GDP supporting businesses and their employees who lost jobs at the height of the pandemic.

Our collective actions in response to the pandemic saved tens of thousands of lives and kept millions of people out of dire poverty.”

Strengthening the fight against corruption

The president said his government has strengthened and enabled the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to investigate and prosecute corrupt government officials and supported the state capture commission of inquiry to probe allegations of corruption at state-owned entities.

“We are taking disciplinary action against government officials implicated in procurement irregularities and have started to recover billions in looted funds. We have put in place capable leadership at previously-captured state-owned entities and public institutions, and have reversed the decay at Sars, the PIC, Eskom, Transnet and many others.”

Support for small businesses 

The president said the department of small businesses is working hard to reduce barriers and make accessible financial assistance for small businesses, which helps create jobs, empower black businesses and workers, and improve access to economic participation. 

“We are removing constraints on the establishment and growth of these businesses and providing them with access to finance.

“This explains the work being done by the department of small business development to lower barriers to entry and remove impediments to growth through, among other things, a review of key legislation like the Businesses Act.”

The private sector creates the most jobs 

Ramaphosa said the private sector employs about three-quarters of SA’s workers. He reiterated remarks from his Sona, saying the government needs to create a conducive environment and economy that will enable more job creation by the private sector. 

“In SA, the number of people employed in the public sector increased from 1.9-million in 2002 to 2.8-million in 2017. Over the same period, the number of people employed in the private sector increased from 8.2-million to 13.5-million.”

Improved quality of teaching and learning 

The president said the employment of teaching assistants under the presidential employment stimulus not only creates employment among youth but has also developed teaching and learning after nearly two years of disruption due to the pandemic. 

He said the programme will continue in 2022. 

“The appointment of over half a million young people as education assistants in over 22,000 schools across the country has been welcomed by teachers and school management as a valuable contribution to the quality of learning and teaching.” 

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.