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Fixing the economy requires a redesigned cabinet: Cyril Ramaphosa

15 May 2019 - 14:00 By Sunita Menon
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the first task in kick-starting SA's economy is to reconfigure the cabinet.

“We're now going to reconfigure our cabinet as part of the reform package our country needs for the economy to move forward and address the needs of our people,” Ramaphosa told investors at a Goldman Sachs conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.

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This move will be an indication of the kind of power Ramaphosa holds in the party as investors watch to see whether he has the political will to replace Zuma-era appointees.

“The reconfigured cabinet structure will come out with an institutional framework to serve our country best and focus on economic growth. The key risk for us is low economic growth and creating jobs. The structure of government will speak to that,” he said.

This comes a day after data from Statistics SA showed that the unemployment rate rose to a near 15-year high in the first quarter of 2019.

“We know the constraints on the economy and we need to speed up on them. Following the technical recession last year, we embarked on an economic stimulus plan and identified a number of reform issues we had to address. That's already under way,” he said.

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Ramaphosa said the government would continue with its reform of state-owned enterprises, particularly cleaning up embattled power utility Eskom.

“If Eskom fails this country also fails … It is a valued national asset and we are not privatising Eskom, we are restructuring it so we can allow the private sector to be our partners,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the government would also engage with unions to deal with the overstaffing at Eskom.

“Key structures at Eskom were completely destroyed. It started at the top, the governance was a major problem and then there was the ballooning of staff … for the power we generate, we are overstaffed.

“We will deal with it sensitively with our unions with thorough discussions without throwing people out. It's a problem we have to deal with but in the end Eskom is too big to fail,” the president said.

- BusinessLIVE