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Ramaphosa urges SA not to see 'glass half-empty' on economic recovery

Replying to the debate on his State of the Nation Address, Cyril Ramaphosa urged South Africans not to see the glass half-empty, saying concrete progress was being made in getting the economy back on track.

President Cyril Ramaphosa during his response to the debates on his State of the Nation Address on 18 February 2021. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government’s biggest priority was rolling out the vaccines that would protect people from contracting COVID-19 and save lives.

The massive project began on Wednesday just 24 hours after the vaccines landed in South Africa.

Replying to the debate on his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa urged South Africans not to see the glass half-empty, saying concrete progress was being made in getting the economy back on track.

The president avoided directly responding to personal insults hurled at him during the two days of debate on his speech, saying only he felt they were uncalled for.

He said the start of the vaccination programme brought hope, but that South Africa was still in the midst of the worst global health emergency in more than a century.

“That is why the vaccination programme that has now gotten under way remains our immediate priority, starting with health care workers and then expanding further to reach population immunity in the shortest possible time.”

Ramaphosa said the government was forging ahead with economic reforms.

“A lot of progress has already been made - concrete progress – in accelerating the implementation and shifting of our economic trajectory, and this is where I would agree with those who say the glass is not empty, we should see it as having been half-full and getting fuller and fuller as we move on.”

Ramaphosa referred to the latest results from the NIDS-Cram study which tracked the impact of the pandemic on South African households.

“This data shows that by October last year, total employment had recovered to almost reach the level that we saw in February, before the pandemic. This, in a number of ways, is progress.”

However, it was deeply worrying that despite social relief, the study also showed that more people were going hungry, that many of those who lost jobs weren’t the same people that got new ones, and that women had lost more working hours than men – possibly due to spending more time on childcare.

Ramaphosa said such research would continue to guide the government.

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