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Ramaphosa: South Africa will rise again

President Cyril Ramaphosa came across as the chief executive of South Africa Incorporated last night, reporting back to the board and shareholders after a catastrophic year, with murky waters still ahead.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on 11 February 2021. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa got down to business on Thursday night, focusing the government’s strategic goals for the coming year on four key areas.

These are tackling COVID-19, the recovery of the economy, fighting corruption and beefing up the capacity of the state to deliver.

His announcement on the imminent arrival of more than 40 million doses of vaccine will be welcomed, as will the decision to extend the special R350 COVID-19 relief grant and the UIF TERS relief for businesses unable to operate under level three lockdown.

FULL SPEECH: President Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address

The scaled-down State of the Nation Address was the first to be delivered with only 50 parliamentarians and members of the judiciary in the chamber, with everyone else connected online.

Cyril Ramaphosa came across as the chief executive of South Africa Incorporated last night, reporting back to the board and shareholders after a catastrophic year, with murky waters still ahead.

Instead of a laundry list, he offered a crisp agenda of four main strategic goals for his government – beating COVID-19, boosting growth, tackling corruption and building the state’s ability to deliver.

READ: Opposition parties criticise Ramaphosa's Sona as out of touch and out of ideas

When he delivered his last Sona COVID-19 was something happening on the other side of the world. It’s just four months since he unveiled his economic recovery plan.

“This evening, we stand here, not to make promises, but to report on the progress in the implementation of the economic recovery plan, and also the priority actions that we need to take to restore growth and to create jobs.”

In terms of the economy, Ramaphosa spoke to four key areas – a massive infrastructure rollout, a focus on local production to boost local manufacturing and create jobs, and steps to expand electricity generation beyond Eskom, using renewable energy.

While a top priority, he offered little detail on how the government intends to manage the complexities of vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 but more than 40 million doses are on their way.

“This year, we must do everything in our means to contain and overcome the pandemic. this means intensifying our prevention efforts and strengthening our health system, it also means that we must undertake a massive vaccination programme to save lives and dramatically reduce infection across the entire population.”

Ramaphosa tried to inspire hope by likening South Africans’ ability to overcome challenges to the fynbos unique to the Western Cape, which flourishes after devastating fires.

If he made one promise, it was that South Africa would rise again.

WATCH: Job creation and fighting corruption: Highlights from Sona 2021

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