PRETORIA - ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his January 8 Statement in East London on Saturday; the Statement, he said, was guided by the National Executive Committee and according to the National Development Plan.
The newly elected ANC President's maiden address was met by great jubilation among the estimated 21 000 strong crowd; the general consensus being that the ANC President had managed to balance populist expectations with sober realities.
In his address, Ramaphosa said the ANC is determined to build an economy that dismantles inequality and reverses apartheid injustices by creating social inclusion
"Our vision is an economy that encourages and welcomes investment, offers policy certainty and addresses barriers that inhibit growth and social inclusion. Our commitment is to build strong partnerships in which efficient and accountable government agencies, responsible citizens and businesses, effective trade unions and civil society work together for the common good,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa announced that 2018 would be the year of growth for the South-African economy - reaffirming the party's resolution of making this year, "a year of the movement and turn around for the economy of the country."
As expected, the contentious issue of state-capture was not without the acknowledgement of former party President, Jacob Zuma's establishment of a commission of inquiry. Ramaphosa commended President Jacob Zuma for announcing the probe into state capture, saying government would finally "get to the bottom of the matter."
A direct warning was issued to those guilty of looting state funds, "the police and prosecutorial authorities should be strengthened so they may be able to serve the people of our country without fear or favor," Ramaphosa said.
As many hoped, Ramaphosa provided some degree of clarification on free higher education. Addressing the crowd, he said, the time for free higher education has "arrived," for students from poor and working class backgrounds, whose household income was less than R350,000.
However, Ramaphosa added that the promise of free education would not be immediately available to all prospective students who qualify; saying the process would be implemented by a "phase approach" to enable sustainability and the procurement of long-term funding.
Ramaphosa's announcement of the ANC's commitment to creating "one million jobs" for young people through a three year "multifaceted growth plan" was met with skepticism by those pointing out that similar, abortive assertions had been made by his predecessor, Jacob Zuma in the past.
Ramaphosa also highlighted the need for social and economic transformation. "We shall confront, together, the lack of broad-based economic participation and the social marginalisation of millions of poor and landless people,” he said.
He added that key to tackling unemployment would be to focus on the youth. He noted that despite progress made in expanding access to education, millions of young people did not have the skills that the economy needs.
On land reform, Ramaphosa said land dispossession needed to be addressed with urgency. "We will do so in a manner that not only meets the constitutional requirement of redress, but also promotes economic development, agricultural production, and food security. At the same time we will pursue the enormous potential of agriculture to promote industrialisation, create employment, and transform our economy," he said.
Ramaphosa also stressed the need to revolutionise urban areas, "we want that land to be released so that our people can build - the ANC aims to forge a pact to reignite economic growth and accelerate economic transformation.
Calling for the he nationalisation of the South-African reserve bank,Ramaphosa said government was committed to the reform, "we call on government to develop proposals, in line with international practice, to ensure full public ownership of the Reserve Bank."
Ramaphosa called for economic policy certainty in order to move away form an economy that wards off prospective investors."We invite all investors from all over the world so that we can grow the economy."
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE