South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday (WED) said that the country’s new administration would focus on repairing the economy and creating jobs as a priority.

Ramaphosa was on Wednesday on a charm offensive a day as pressure mounted on him to improve South Africa's competitiveness and turn state-owned entities around following last week's elections.

He told the Goldman Sachs forum in Johannesburg attended by business leaders managing $400 billion of assets that the government planned to introduce major a major overall of the country’s economic structure to attract investments.

"What we will be seeking to come out with an institutional framework that will serve our people best and our economy well,” Ramaphosa said.  “The key problem we face as a country is low economic growth. It all revolves around the economy. We are going to focus on more ways of generating economic growth and creating jobs. The structure of the government is going to speak to that.”

Ramaphosa  said one of the steps he had taken was to reintroduce the policy and research advisory unit in the Presidency that would chart a new path for the economy.

He said the government would also deal with regulatory uncertainties that have impeded growth.

“We are going to have a policy unit that is going to help to inform policy at the government level and to ensure policy implementation. It (policy unit) will be in the presidency and under my continuous watch to ensure that things do happen,” he said.

South Africa’s economic growth has weakened over the majority of the past ten years, resulting in uncertainty and weak investor confidence. 

On Tuesday, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said its data showed that unemployment reached a near two year high in the first quarter as the construction and financial services sector came under pressure. 

Stats SA said unemployment hit 27.6 percent from 27.1 percent in the previous quarter with the construction sector shedding 142 000 jobs or 1 577 jobs a day.

Ramaphosa said the policy and research advisory unit would give the government a clear view of policy design and implementation of policies with a focus on investment and economic growth.

He said it would also speed up the reform of policies such as Visa regulations that have hampered growth.

Ramaphosa has been leading efforts to revive the economy, and last year announced a target to raise R100 billion in investment over the five years. Ramaphosa also hosted a jobs summit and announced a stimulus package in which government will reprioritise about R50-billion of its existing budget to reignite economic growth and create jobs.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa said his administration wanted to revive the economy and turn around at state owned power utility Eskom would bear fruit. 

He said problems of governance, management and corruption were being addressed at state owned entities including Eskom and state owned logistics company Transnet.

“We have had financial challenges. Eskom is the only company in the history of South Africa  that has a debt of R400 billion. Its a problem we have to address. It  is too big to fail.” 

Ramaphosa who spoke to  investors for the first time since leading the African National Congress (ANC)  to a 58 percent victory at last week’s national government elections  is expected to announce a slimmer reconfigured cabinet structure.

He reiterated that land expropriation without expropriation wold be done in a rational manner.

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