WATCH LIVE: President Ramaphosa outlines 4 priorities in Sona 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa is delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday and is tackling topics such as the ailing economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and gender-based violence.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said government would be focusing on four key overriding priorities.

Ramaphosa is delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament this evening against a grim backdrop of a staggering economy, deepening unemployment and a stalled vaccine rollout.

He said the four overriding priorities were:

  • Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. That is primary in everything we have to do.

  • Accelerating economic recovery.

  • Implementing economic reforms to drive inclusive growth.

  • Fighting corruption and strengthening the state that has been weakened

In terms of defeating COVID-19, Ramaphosa said the first phase would use the J&J vaccine which had shown to be effective against the second variant of the virus.

He said government has managed to secure 9 million doses. “ Some 80,000 doses are due to arrive in SA next week.”

The president said government had also managed to secure 12 million vaccines from the Covax facility to complement other vaccines available to the country, while Pfizer had committed 20 million vaccines to be delivered at the end of the first quarter.

OVERCOMING POVERTY

South Africa continues to be plagued by high levels of unemployment, especially amongst the youth of the country.

Ramaphosa said government would also prioritise overcoming the increasing poverty levels in the country.

Last year, the National Income Dynamics Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey said three million people had lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Ramaphosa said in the third quarter of 2020, the economy was 6% lower than the previous quarter and there were 1.6 million fewer people employed than in the first

South Africa’s unemployment rate now sits at 30.8%. Ramaphosa said 18 million people had received grant payments, which lifted more than 5 million people above the poverty line.

R100BN INFRASTRUCTURE FUND IS NOW IN FULL OPERATION.

Ramaphosa said the R100 billion infrastructure fund was in full operation and with a varied pipeline.

He said this pipeline included student housing infrastructure aimed at providing 300,00 student beds, and broadband to schools, hospitals and other state institutions through a project called SA Connects.

Ramaphosa said this promoted the massive increase in local production and made local products export worthy and would encourage buyers to prioritise buying locally.

“…To ensure that we encourage South Africans to buy local.”

He said this would lead to the revival of the manufacturing industry and create employment.

CREATING JOBS AND SAVING LIVELIHOODS

“The private sector remains the primary creator of jobs.”

Ramaphosa said government was working with the private sector to create sustainable jobs and grow the economy.

He said 430,000 had already been supported through government’s stimulus with over 100,000 more expected to be created.

Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Tuesday this week said she was challenging the National Youth Development Agency to support at least 15,000 startups by 2024.

This was a commitment made by Ramaphosa following the 2020 State of the Nation Address.

Ramaphosa on Thursday reiterated this commitment and said it would be followed up on.

GOVT TO WORK HARD AT FIGHTING CORRUPTION

In his latest weekly newslette r, Ramaphosa said the country had become far too used to hearing stories about corruption making reference to the report by the Special Investigating Unit into PPE tender frauds and procurement by various departments, which he described as disturbing to read.

Various government officials have also been named at the state capture commission, including Ramaphosa himself.

Former Eskom boss Brian Molefe has blamed Ramaphosa for some of the state-owned entity’s financial troubles.

WATCH: Molefe: Glencore sold shares to Ramaphosa to gain political benefits

Molefe claimed that the president sold-out Eskom and the country for his personal benefits through his support for mining giant Glencore.

The company allegedly tried to extort R8 billion from the power utility after it bought Optimum coal mine and tied itself into a coal supply contract without due diligence.

In fighting corruption that’s plagued South Africa’s government, Ramaphosa said ethics and integrity was critical in building a solid state.

“We will be appointing members of the anti-corruption body that will report to this Parliament.”

On transparency on political party funding and donations, Ramaphosa said, “the Political Party Funding Act will come to effect on 1 April.”

R350 UNEMPLOYMENT GRANT/TERS EXTENDED

Earlier this month, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu told Eyewitness News discussions were under way to see if the government’s R350 special grant could be provided again.

During his address, Ramaphosa says the R350 unemployment grant had been extended by three months.

After calls for the UIF COVID-19 TERS support to be extended, he also said it will be extended until 15 March but only for sectors that had not been able to open or operate during the COVID-19 lockdown.

WATCH: State of the Nation Address 2021

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