After seven months of lockdown, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tabled an “economic reconstruction and recovery plan” on Thursday in response to the staggering effects of Covid-19 on the country’s economy.
The president’s plans respond to the immediate economic impact of the pandemic by driving job creation and expanding support for vulnerable households.
“We aim to do this primarily through a major infrastructure program and a large-scale employment stimulus, coupled with an intensive localization drive and industrial expansion,” Ramaphosa said in his address.
Some of Ramaphosa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan highlighted in Parliament:
1. “Create and support over 800,000 work opportunities in the immediate term to respond to job losses”
In his address to parliament, the president announced that the government has committed an R100 billion fund to create 800,000 public sector jobs in the next three years. This employment stimulus is focused on those interventions that can be rolled out most quickly and have the greatest impact on economic recovery.
“At the heart of the employment stimulus is a new, innovative approach to public employment which harnesses the energies and capabilities of the wider society,” Ramaphosa said.
Of the 800,000 job opportunities, 300,000 would go to unemployed grade 12 pupils to be hired as assistants to public school teachers. The aim is that these matriculants could help teachers with their added Covid-19 related responsibilities like such as ensuring classroom hygiene and daily health screening of pupils.
“We are going to create 300,000 opportunities for young people to be engaged as education and school assistants at schools throughout the country, to help teachers with basic and routine work so that more time is spent on teaching and enabling learners to catch up from time lost because of Covid,” said Ramaphosa.
2. “Unlock more than R1 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next four years”
In his recovery plan, Ramaphosa announced that there is a pipeline of projects in works that will completely transform the landscape of South Africa’s cities, towns, and rural areas.
The president stated that there are several projects that have been prioritized for “immediate implementation with all regulatory processes fast-tracked”. These projects include the 276 catalytic projects, which had an investment value of R2.3 trillion by the end of June 2020. Furthermore, the list of 50 strategic integrated projects and 12 special projects that were gazetted in July 2020.
“Our infrastructure build program will focus on social infrastructures such as schools, water, sanitation, and housing for the benefit of our people. We will focus on critical network infrastructures such as ports, roads, and rail that are key to our economy’s competitiveness,” Ramaphosa said.
3. “Achieve sufficient, secure, and reliable energy supply within two years”
The president said that the government would be accelerating the process of bringing additional energy generation on line. Part of this plan would be implementing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to provide a substantial increase in the contribution of renewable energy sources, battery storage and gas technology.
“The work of restructuring Eskom into separate entities for generation, transmission, and distribution continues and will enhance competition and ensure the sustainability of independent power producers going forward,” Ramaphosa said.
“To achieve this, a long-term solution to Eskom’s debt burden will be finalized, building on the Social Compact on Energy Security recently agreed to by social partners.”