President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his fifth SONA on Thursday. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his fifth SONA on Thursday. Picture: GCIS

SONA 2021: Ramaphosa makes job creation a priority

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 11, 2021

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Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa is hopeful that the relief measures implemented by government and a phased re-opening of the economy will help to kickstart the country's economy which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Delivering his fifth State of the Nation this evening, Ramaphosa said an the intervention of an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods was one of four of his government's priority interventions.

He said over the past year, SA has experienced a sharp decline in growth and a significant increase in unemployment.

He noted that there were 1.7 million fewer people employed in the third quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter, before the pandemic struck.

"Over the past year, South Africa has experienced a sharp decline in growth and a significant increase in unemployment. Poverty is on the rise. Inequality is deepening. In the third quarter of 2020, our economy was 6% percent smaller than it was in the last quarter of 2019. There were 1.7 million fewer people employed in the third quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter, before the pandemic struck. Our unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 30.8%," Ramaphosa said.

He said one of his government's priority interventions is an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods - through a relationship between the private and public sectors.

"The Presidential Employment Stimulus is one of the most significant expansions of public and social employment in South Africa’s history. By the end of January 2021, over 430 000 opportunities have already been supported through the stimulus. A further 180 000 opportunities are currently in the recruitment process. These opportunities are in areas like education, arts and culture, global business services, early childhood development, and small-scale and subsistence farming," Ramaphosa said.

In his SONA last year, Ramaphosa announced that the National Youth Development Agency and Department of Small Business Development would provide grant funding and business support to 1 000 young entrepreneurs within 100 days.

"While the programme had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus restrictions, it nevertheless managed to reach its target of 1 000 businesses by International Youth Day on August, 12, 2020. This provides a firm foundation for our efforts to support 15,000 start-ups by 2024," he said.

Relief measures implemented to date:

  • More than 18m South Africans have received additional social grant payments, lifting 5m more people above the food poverty line
  • R57bn in wage support has been paid to more than 4.5m workers to protect jobs
  • Businesses in distress have received R70bn in tax relief and R18.9bn in loans through the loan guarantee scheme.
  • Through the Public Employment Programme, 3.2m work opportunities have been created by public employment programmes since the start of the current Parliament.

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