JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa is delivering his first State of the Nation Adress in Parliament a day after being sworn in as the President of the Republic of South Africa.
On Thursday Ramaphosa was elected in the National Assembly after Jacob Zuma announced his resignation of Wednesday night.
Last week the Presidency postponed the annual address by the president as the ANC enages in protracted negotiations for Zuma to leave office.
On Thursday evening, Parliament announced that the State of the Nation Address would take place will full pomp and ceremony.
Ramaphosa said, while addressing the nation, "The state we are in as a nation is that while poverty declined significantly following the democratic breakthrough of 1994, we have seen reverses in recent years. Poverty levels rose in 2015, unemployment has gone up and inequality has persisted. For several years our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty. Public finances have been constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development."
"Despite these challenging conditions, we have managed – working together – to achieve progress in improving the lives of our people. Even under conditions of weak growth, our economy has created jobs, but not at the pace required to absorb new entrants into the labour market, "the president continued.
"This means that as we pursue higher levels of economic growth and investment, we need to take additional measures to reduce poverty and meet the needs of the unemployed. Since the start of the current Parliament, our public employment programmes have created more than 3.2 million work opportunities. In the context of widespread unemployment, they continue to provide much needed income, work experience and training. We have taken measures to reduce the cost of living, especially for the poor. Government’s free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households. More than 17 million social grants are paid each month, benefiting nearly a third of the population. We know, however, that if we are to break the cycle of poverty, we need to educate the children of the poor."
"We have insisted that this should start in early childhood. Today we have nearly a million children in early childhood development facilities. We are seeing improvements in the outcomes of our basic education system. The matric pass rate increased from 60.6 percent in 2009 to 75.1 percent last year. There are currently almost a million students enrolled in higher education, up from just over 500,000 in 1994. As we enter a new era, we are determined to build on these achievements, confront the challenges we face and accelerate progress in building a more prosperous and equitable society."
"We have seen a moderate recovery in our economy and a broader, sustained recovery in the global economy. Commodity prices have improved, the stock market has risen, the rand has strengthened and there are early indications that investor confidence is on the rise. We have taken decisive measures to address concerns about political instability and are committed to ensure policy certainty and consistency."
There is a greater sense of optimism among our people.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE