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Ramaphosa under pressure to outline decisive plan to boost SA economy

The president is expected to address a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament at 2pm on Thursday and it will be broadcast live.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings on 15 August 2020. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - With President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to table government's economic recovery plan on Thursday, he is under pressure from all quarters to come up with bold and decisive action rather than more rhetoric and promises.

Ramaphosa is expected to address a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament at 2pm and it will be broadcast live.

The long-awaited recovery plan comes as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni waited to hear whether Parliament would grant his request to delay tabling his medium-term budget review to 28 October instead of next Wednesday.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) sit on different sides of the ideological fence. But they agreed that what Ramaphosa says could either make or break him.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the opposition in Parliament, said it was a critical moment for the president.

“It’s going to be a decisive moment in the president’s history and how it’s written – this is the time now – he’s got to bring bold reforms to the table. This is not a time for timidity, it’s not a time for kowtowing to the allies and compromising the growth agenda,” Steenhuisen said.

Cosatu’s Matthew Parks agreed it was time for Ramaphosa to show his hand.

“We’re in the worst economic crisis in 100 years, we have lost 2.2 million jobs in the last quarter, we’ve pushed past 51% unemployment, we are in serious danger of heading into economic depression unless government decisively intervenes with the assistance of the private sector to get the economy out of its deep hole to create jobs, rebuild the state, deal with corruption, and collapsing SOEs, particularly Eskom,” Parks said.

“So, it’s a very long list of tasks for government, but we have no choice. This is a Rubicon moment for the state and the entire nation.”

Steenhuisen said if Ramaphosa comes up with a wish list, the markets would react badly and he could risk becoming a lame-duck president.

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