The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly unleashed the mother of all economic disasters, with an estimated three million jobs lost in South Africa alone and many businesses forced to shut down, mostly due to lockdown restrictions. However, President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured citizens that they're hard at work in rebuilding the economy.
In his weekly newsletter released on Monday, 27 July 2020, the president said the long and difficult path to recovery needs to start immediately.
"Despite the economic challenges we face, we must continue to work towards the achievement of economic dignity for all South Africans. This is not the time to despair but to act. It is untenable, and unacceptable, to live with an unemployment rate of 30 percent, which will soon increase. It is also impossible to build an economy built on inequality", Ramaphosa said.
Economic recovery proposals
Since the lockdown in March, the president says they have received a number of proposals from the governing party (ANC), civil society, organized business and independent analysts on reviving the economy.
Ramaphosa said there are commonalities in most of the plans – with a specific focus on improving execution.
"They all say that we should seek out pockets of excellence in the state and support and deepen them. But they also say that we must look outside the state. We need to bring together the best available local skills, whether in business, academia or civil society to support our common programme", he added.
The president said there was a strong commitment to a social compact and the institutions necessary to support it so that the reconstruction of the economy could be a shared responsibility and a shared undertaking.
In the coming weeks, government will be engaging with social partners to finalise an economic recovery programme that brings together the best of all the various proposals. The most important part of that programme must be the protection and the creation of jobs, Ramaphosa says.
'Economic activity to pick up'
Contrary to what some experts have said, the president said they expect the economy to slowly get back on its feet.
"As the recovery takes hold and the world gradually adjusts to a global economy marked by COVID-19, we expect economic activity to pick up. By then, our initiatives to reform and improve the business environment will establish a firm platform for industries with high potential to flourish", he said.