Opinion

We are determined to stay the course on reform

From building on the achievements of the past to forging new paths - and dealing with corruption - we are committed to a renewal agenda for SA

10 February 2019 - 00:05 By CYRIL RAMAPHOSA


Twenty-five years since the birth of a democratic SA, our nation celebrates one of the greatest of human achievements: the triumph of freedom over subjugation.
Having reached this milestone also gives us cause to reflect on whether we have realised the promise of our nation's birth.
We have made significant progress towards the realisation of a country in which all South Africans are able to live in dignity. Despite our successes, we have suffered setbacks and made mistakes, but we have resolved to return to the founding values of our constitution that places the needs of the dispossessed and the marginalised at the heart of our national agenda.
Growing and transforming our economy, attracting higher levels of investment and job creation are at the centre of all our efforts.
We will forge ahead with measures to ignite economic activity and attract investors.
Infrastructure build is key to igniting economic activity and stimulating growth, and a national Infrastructure Fund has been established to leverage private, public and development finance-institution funding to complete key infrastructure projects. The government will contribute R100bn to the fund over a 10-year period.
Along with manufacturing, agricultural exports and agro-processing, tourism is a growth area and we aim to double the size of the tourism business sector from around 10-million arrivals currently to approximately 21-million by 2030. We are continuing with our efforts to streamline the visa regime and develop a world-class eVisa system.
With one of the world's largest coastlines, we continue to harness the potential of our oceans to grow the economy through Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy. Since its launch in 2014 we have secured investments of nearly R30bn - mainly in infrastructure development, marine manufacturing, aquaculture, and the oil and gas sector.
We have addressed concerns around policy uncertainty inconsistency and are also establishing a team to address the policy, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers that frustrate investors.
We have taken decisive measures to improve governance, strengthen leadership and restore stability in strategic state-owned enterprises.
We do not have the luxury of time. Eskom is in crisis and the risk it poses to our energy security and ambitions of economic growth is significant.
It is for this reason that we are establishing three separate entities under Eskom Holdings, responsible for generation, transmission and distribution.
We are redesigning and repositioning Eskom for the future. This is not about "privatising" Eskom but separating and balancing operations to make the entity far more efficient.
Working together with labour, Eskom and other stakeholders, we will ensure that bold and decisive action we will take will consider and address the needs of all those affected.
State-owned enterprises must be fully self-sufficient and able to fulfil their developmental and economic roles. This therefore requires that those consuming services, including electricity, must pay for them.
Work is also being undertaken to restore the credibility of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Revenue Service, the State Security Agency and the South African Police Service.
Our greatest challenge is to create jobs for the unemployed. At the Presidential Jobs Summit, we agreed on far-reaching measures that - when fully implemented - could nearly double the number of jobs being created in our economy each year.
Youth are being drawn into economic activity in greater numbers through initiatives like the Employment Tax Incentive and the Youth Employment Service paid-internship programme.
We can and must prepare our country for the digital age, and as a young and youthful nation we can choose either to be overtaken by technological change or to harness it to serve our developmental aspirations.
We choose to be a nation that is reaching into the future. A nation committed to developing the technology and the capabilities that will build a dynamic and competitive economy that creates decent, sustainable jobs.
Improving the living conditions of our people through the provision of housing and basic services is a focus of the government this year.
The Housing Development Agency aims to construct an additional 500,000 housing units in the next five years, and an amount of R30bn will be provided to municipalities and provinces.
We have also begun the process of identifying state land in urban areas to release for the development of human settlements, and will be expanding the People's Housing Programme, where households are allocated serviced stands to build their own homes.
Corruption and the abuse of political office for self-enrichment will no longer be countenanced by this government.
The work of the likes of the Zondo commission into state capture is to be commended, and the next step is ensuring that evidence of criminal activity is evaluated by the criminal justice system.
Where there is a basis to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds be recovered urgently.
We are working with the office of the national director of public prosecutions around the establishment of an investigative directorate dealing with serious corruption and associated offences, in accordance with section 7 of the NPA Act. It will identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption.
It was the eternal optimism of the human spirit that kept hopes alive during the dark days of apartheid, and it is this optimism that will carry us forward as we face a brave new future.
We are determined to stay the course of reform and renewal, undaunted by the difficulties we have yet to overcome.
As the government, as business, as labour and as citizens, let us unite to embrace tomorrow, and resume the onward march along the path of equality, freedom and prosperity for all.

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