PERESTROIKA, PARTY RENEWAL & REVOLUTIONARY MORALITY

Of the epoch-making events in our country’s history, President Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock in the 1964 Rivonia trial is widely accepted to be amongst the finest examples of political oratory of the 20th century. 
 
Although its powerful denouement, “it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” is most widely cited, it is at the very beginning that he outlines his motivation for becoming involved in the struggle for his country’s liberation. 
 
Paying homage to South Africa’s illustrious ancestors, he called on the names of Bambata, of Hintsa, of Sekhukhuni, and proclaimed: “I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people – and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle… this is what has motivated me in all that I have done in relation to the charges made against me..”
 
Serving his people with humility was a hallmark of the revolutionary morality exhibited by one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time; a man who despite his immense stature, was guided not by a quest for recognition, nor for material gain – but by wanting to do his small part.  
 
As we mark the centenary of the birth of this great leader, the African National Congress and indeed the country, is at another epoch in our history. 
 
Africa’s oldest liberation movement has embarked upon a new path of unity, organizational renewal and accelerated socio-economic transformation. 
 
It has at its core a recommitment to the founding values of our glorious movement; to being a party rooted among the people, representing their interests, concerns and aspirations, transforming society and developing every community. 
 
This necessitates, as we said at the 54th National Conference, ‘a readiness and willingness of our members to serve, and make sacrifices in pursuit of the cause of the people as a whole.’
 
This moral ideal – that sublimates self-interest to the pursuit of the greater good, does not apply only to the leadership of our movement, but to each and every member in each and every community. 
 
It is a powerful and transformative impetus that sees every member of our movement as an active force for change. It is the driving force in our struggle to transform society. 
 
Without embracing a revolutionary morality, we cannot rightfully claim our place as the leader of society. In a 1963 interview with L’Express magazine, Cuban leader Che Guevara said: “I’m not interested in economic socialism without communist morality; we are struggling against poverty, but we are also struggling against alienation…if communism is dissociated from consciousness, it may be a method of distribution, but it is no longer a revolutionary morality.” 
 
The ANC is at a crossroads. We must painfully acknowledge that the decline in the ethics, values and traditions of the movement have led to a growing alienation between us and South African society. 
 
The social compact formed with our people in 1994 has come to be severely tested by the emergence of a host of ills that have beset our movement. Many of these have been manifest in a very public manner, leading to what the then Secretary-General of the ANC Comrade Gwede Mantashe described in his 2017 Organizational Diagnostic report to the National Conference as ‘a growing trust deficit’ between the ANC and the people. 
 
The pernicious influences of corruption, of factionalism, of arrogant leadership and of collapse of party discipline have contributed to the ANC being perceived as a vehicle for self-enrichment. This can no longer and will no longer continue.
 
Contemporary events in South Africa have thrust into the spotlight the pervasive influence of greed and self-accumulation at the expense of our people. The VBS Bank scandal is but one instance of the withering away of our society’s moral fiber, as a small minority enriched themselves with utterly no regard for the destitution and destruction they created in the lives of honest, hardworking South Africans. 
 
Similarly, testimonies at the Zondo Commission of Enquiry paint a bleak picture of hidden handspurportedly manipulating key institutions and offices of State, abusing political patronage in a web of deceipt.
 
History bears witness to the fate that has befallen revolutionary movements who fail to heed the signs of decline. 
 
Endemic corruption and the abuse of state and party resources for private gain precipitated a spectacular loss of fortunes for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1970’s during the Brezhnev years. It was ironically a scenario Lenin himself predicted decades earlier when he spoke of a scenario where institutions were ‘captured’ by ‘unscrupulous and malevolent men’, who ‘manipulated them to cover-up or condone their own abuses of power.’ Failure to stem the tide of corruption led to the unravelling of not just the Party but the entire Soviet system, as it fed into a general disillusionment that became impossible to contain. 
 
If the ANC is to reassert its position as leader of society in the face of a growing disillusionment by our people, we need, indeed we have to exhibit – not with words, but with actions, that we are committed to addressing and correcting our weaknesses, and to stamping out the vices that have divided our movement. 
 
The contemporary renewal of the ANC is the perestroika of our time; and must be led from the front.
 
It requires leaders of principle, of revolutionary morality, and of humility. 
 
We owe our position to an overwhelming public mandate given to us in successive polls since the dawn of democracy – but is not something we should take for granted. 
 
Maintaining and securing our compact with society calls for leaders and cadres who are both ethical and altruistic, and who make no distinction between how they conduct themselves in private, and as members of the ANC. 
 
For ultimately if they falter, they are not judged as individuals, but as members and leaders of the ANC. 
 
Assuming the mantle of leadership of society confers with it great responsibility, and this is inextricably tied to accountability. 
 
Where there has been abuse of political office for personal gain; where there have been acts of illegality and criminality; and where public office bearers, ANC leaders or members are found to have otherwise conducted themselves contra bonos mores – there must be consequences. 
 
In as much as our law-enforcement authorities must act in this regard without fear or favour, so too we as the ANC must strengthen our internal accountability mechanisms, such as the Integrity Commission. For such structures to have credibility, consequence management must be both swift and tangible.
 
The task before us is a momentous one. 
 
At the same time, we have within our means the opportunity to chart a new course for our movement, while we still retain a large measure of public goodwill. 
 
The ANC has an established track-record for service delivery and for advancing programmes and policies that benefit our society’s most disadvantaged. 
 
It is up to us to draw on our strengths, to correct our weaknesses, and above all, to remain united. The ideals for which the likes of Tata Madiba stood, and for which he was prepared to die, should serve as inspiration to each of us as we move together, with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism, into the future.
 
Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress

BUILDING A SOCIAL COMPACT FOR JOBS

A historic milestone in the partnership between government, labour, business and community has yielded a broad range of measures to create and protect jobs – and bring hope and opportunity to South Africans who need it the most.

This past week’s Presidential Jobs Summit, convened under the auspices of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), was the platform from which our nation’s social partners answered the call of the people of South Africa for decent work.

Our response took the form of a framework agreement that will confront the greatest challenge facing our country at this moment in its history: unemployment.

We should therefore all take heart from the estimate that the initiatives agreed by the social partners will create approximately 275,000 jobs a year – over and above the jobs that would have been created without these interventions, which was on average about 300,000 a year over the past four years.

The extreme unemployment in this country is the product of an economy that for several decades has been starved of any meaningful investment in its human capital, where most people have been denied the opportunity to own assets or develop skills.

The structure of the economy, which was built on the extraction of minerals, where ownership and control are highly concentrated, remains largely untransformed.

Low levels of growth in recent years has further undermined our efforts to overcome the economic legacy of apartheid.

Our economic performance has also been undermined by state capture and corruption in both public institutions and private companies.

Since the announcement of the Jobs Summit in the State of the Nation Address in February, all social partners have been engaged in intensive discussions to craft an ambitious and realisable agreement to begin to address this crisis.

As a critical starting point, our focus is on both creating new jobs and retaining existing ones.

There is agreement that all possible alternatives and opportunities need to be explored before retrenchment is considered, including executive salary sacrifices and the foregoing of dividends.

For the economy to grow and for jobs to be created, it is essential that there is a substantial increase in domestic demand.

This means that South African companies, government and consumers must buy local.

The most direct way for South Africans and South African companies to create jobs is to buy only South African products.

Government has undertaken to simplify and speed up the process for the designation of products for local procurement, and organised labour, in partnership with Proudly SA, will proactively identify opportunities for new designations.

While promoting local demand, social partners have also identified the need to more aggressively promote South African exports.

We will embark on an export drive that prioritises manufactured and processed goods, ensuring that we derive the full employment benefit of our mineral and agricultural resources.

We will seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets.

Through this framework agreement, we will be mobilising finance on a far greater scale, ensuring that it is focused on building our manufacturing capacity.

The financial sector, as part of its transformation code, will invest R100 billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises.

The social partners have agreed on strategic interventions in economic sectors that have great potential for growth and even more potential for employment creation.

The agriculture and agro-processing value chain, as set out in the NDP and the nine-point plan, is one area that has significant potential.

It is estimated that global demand for fresh produce could increase South Africa’s horticultural trade from R54 billion to R90 billion by 2030.

Through our programme of accelerated land reform, we will expand the area of land under cultivation, substantially increase the number of people productively working the land and provide rural dwellers with the ownership and tenure rights needed to unlock the economic potential of their land.

In the metals, mining and machinery sector, government has agreed to expeditiously finalise an export tax on scrap metal and ensure better access to incentives like the Downstream Steel Industry Competitiveness Fund.

Other value chains that are receiving focused attention include sub sectors of the manufacturing industry in clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, furniture and the automotive industry.

One of the most exciting prospects to emerge from the deliberations that led up to the Jobs Summit is that organised labour, through one of its member unions, plans to open a union-owned clothing factory in the Eastern Cape within the next two years.

This innovative and welcome initiative will create around 100 jobs initially and aims to contribute to the re-industrialisation of a province which suffers from widespread poverty and unemployment.

One of the country’s greatest potential strengths is our young population, whose capabilities and talents the social partners are committed to develop as a matter of priority.

A specific area of focus is the development of the technical skills that are required in the industrial economy.

Mechanisms are being put in place to enable companies to form partnerships with nearby TVET colleges, where the colleges offer the theoretical component of the programme and companies offer the practical and workplace components.

The outcomes of the Jobs Summit and the actions set out recently in our stimulus and recovery plan for the economy give us renewed hope in our ability, as South Africans working together, to develop solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

The Jobs Summit was the beginning of a process that brings all South Africans together to cooperate and to work together for a common vision – a growing economy in which the benefits are shared by everyone.

 

By President Cyril Ramaphosa

THE UNITED NATIONS MUST BECOME A REPRESENTATIVE AND TRULY DEMOCRATIC GLOBAL PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE

During the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace (2019-2028) the UN must become a representative and truly democratic global parliament of the people.

It is nearly a quarter of a century since the founding father of our democracy, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela stood at this podium to declare that:

The millions across our globe who stand expectant at the gates of hope look to this organisation [the United Nations], to bring them peace, to bring them life, to bring them a life worth living.”

As we mark the centenary of the birth of this great global leader, we are bound to ask whether the United Nations has met the needs and the expectations of the millions who stand at the gates of hope. We are bound to ask what contribution the United Nations has made to a more peaceful, more prosperous and more equal world. More importantly, we are called upon to ask – as we did yesterday during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit – what the United Nations and the assembled global leadership must do to secure lasting peace, reconciliation and stability across the globe.

Allow me to express the deep gratitude of the government and the people of South Africa to the international community for convening the Peace Summit… and applaud the Political Declaration of the Summit, which recognises 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace. This reflects a new and sincere commitment by the world’s leaders to comprehensively advance peace and security and resolve all conflicts and wars.

To succeed in giving effect to this commitment, the UN must become what billions of people across the world want it to be – a representative and truly democratic global parliament of the people.

Throughout its seven decades, the UN has been a source of hope for the oppressed, exploited and poor. During the dark days of colonialism and apartheid, we drew strength, inspiration and encouragement from the UN and its Charter in our quest for self-determination. With the support of the UN, we were able 24 years ago to bring an end to the nightmare of apartheid. Nelson Mandela led us to freedom and gave us the great opportunity to transform our country.

South Africa’s Journey of Transformation

We have embarked on a journey of transformation, and work is in progress to deal with the ugly legacy of apartheid. Madiba’s vision continues to guide us as we seek to improve the lives of our people in many respects, through improving the educational outcomes of our youth and transforming an economy that was constituted to serve the interests of a few.

We have started a comprehensive dialogue on the question of land reform, which is guided by our Constitution and the rule of law as we seek ways to ensure that the land is shared among all who work it, as set out in our Freedom Charter.

Even as our country is going through difficult economic challenges, we have made progress. We are reforming our economy and creating an environment that is conducive to investment, and have embarked on an investment drive to attract $100 billion dollars in the next five years.

An Instrument to Create a more Equal, Humane and Inclusive world

To the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised, the UN today is a beacon of promise in a landscape of doubt. To billions across the world, the UN is the most powerful instrument we possess to achieve a more equal, more humane and more inclusive world.

They are men and women with dreams and aspirations that transcend the hardships of the present, who want to contribute to a new global civilization defined by care, justice and solidarity. They want an end to the greed, ignorance and conceit that is driving the destruction of our only home, the earth.

It is within our hands, as the leaders assembled here today, to forge a more representative, equal and fair United Nations that is empowered and equipped to lead the struggle to end poverty, unemployment and inequality in the world.

The Age of Youth

We are a young world, where more than half the global population is under the age of 30 years.

This is even more pronounced on our continent, Africa, where two-thirds of its people were not yet born when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

We are living in the Age of Youth.

This places a responsibility on us, as leaders, not only to put the interests of young people at the centre of our efforts, but also to empower women and young people to be more prominent in directing the course of global affairs.

It is young people who are fighting the wars that we started.

It is women who are bearing the brunt and hardships of the wars that continue to destroy their families and lives.

As we speak, young lives are being lost and futures are being destroyed.

Ending Conflict and War

There is an urgency to the measures we must take to end conflict and war.

Not only must we stop the death, destruction and human suffering that is visited daily on millions of people, but we must act with purpose to prevent the loss of another entire generation to its aftermath.

We must accept our shared responsibility – and our shared interest – in ending conflict, and, using the outcomes of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, to empower the United Nations to be a more effective instrument for mediation, peace keeping and post-conflict reconstruction.

Our resolve to end ongoing conflicts and our determination to root out terrorism must be matched by action and by the appropriate deployment of resources. We must act with the same urgency to resolve some of the world’s most protracted and intractable disputes.

The fact that the people of Palestine have endured occupation and suffering for nearly as long as the United Nations has existed, makes their plight no less pressing, nor their suffering any less acceptable.

We must similarly intensify our efforts to secure the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and full national sovereignty.

Participation in the Global Economy

One of the greatest challenges to the achievement of global prosperity and development is the continued exclusion of millions of women and young people from meaningful economic participation.

It is therefore vital that we deploy every means at our disposal to address youth unemployment and ensure universal access to educational opportunities that are appropriate to the changing world of work.

We need a deliberate programme to ensure that the digital revolution – which carries such great potential for both disruption and empowerment – is effectively harnessed to promote social justice and human progress.

Reform of Institutions of Global Governance

The call to leave no one behind requires that we strengthen the institutions of global governance and make them more responsive to the needs of young people, particularly in the developing world.

Institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, IMF and the WTO need to be reshaped and enhanced so that they may more effectively meet the challenges of the contemporary world and better serve the interests of the poor and marginalised.

Reform of the United Nations, and particularly its Security Council, is a priority if we are to give full effect to the values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

We must resist any and all efforts to undermine the multilateral approach to international trade, which is essential to the promotion of stability and predictability in the global economy.

The history of the global economy informs us that no country can prosper at the expense of all others, and that no people can hope to live in comfort and security for as long as millions of others languish in poverty.

It is therefore essential that we take collective responsibility for the development of all nations and for the improvement of the lives of all people. This responsibility is manifest in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on the financing of development, among others.

Together, they represent our common commitment to tackle poverty, underdevelopment and environmental degradation. They represent our common commitment to tackle diseases like Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes and cancer.

Our task as global leaders is to pursue the policies that are required to turn intent into implementation and mobilise the resources needed to turn implementation into impact.

Africa’s Agenda 2063

As Africans, we have made significant strides in addressing the challenges that have confronted our continent over many decades.

We continue to vigorously implement our commitments contained in the African Union Agenda 2063, which is our collective plan to rid our continent of underdevelopment, poverty and conflict and improve democratic governance, the rule of law and the promotion of human rights.

We have reached agreement on the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area, which will fundamentally transform African economies, giving rise to a new industrial age on the continent.

We are working to silence the guns in Africa by 2020, to bring an end to conflicts that have cost the lives of millions of our people, displaced many more and stunted economic growth and human development.

As the continent with the youngest population in the world, Africa has the potential to be the next great frontier for global growth. With effective investment in education, improved health care, good governance and greater economic integration, Africa has the potential to develop its productive capacity on a scale and at a rate that will lift tens of millions out of poverty. The youth of Africa are poised to transform their continent.

As the people of South Africa, we are committed to be part of this transformation. From the ashes of a system that was described by the UN General Assembly as a crime against humanity, we are building a new democratic nation, united in its diversity. We are working to correct the injustices of our past and to build a society that is free, inclusive and sustainable.

We are pursuing an economic path that draws on the resources and capabilities of all our people to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We are determined through our international relations to be a force for progress and peace and global equality, and will continue to advance the interests of the African continent and the Global South.

A Generational Mission

Allow me to conclude by once more drawing on the wisdom of Nelson Mandela, when he said: “Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.”

This is not the generation that will stand expectant at the gates of hope. This is the generation that will change the world.

This is their time, and this is their age.

Let their greatness blossom.

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress

REIGNITING GROWTH, STIMULATING ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND RESTORING CONFIDENCE

In the State of the Nation Address in February, we announced a range of measures that we would initiate to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.

Since then, we have taken decisive steps to rebuild investor confidence, end corruption and state capture, restore good governance at state owned enterprises and strengthen critical public institutions.

Yet, as is evident from the contraction of our economy in the first two quarters of the year, our economic difficulties are severe and will take an extraordinary effort – and some time – to overcome.

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.

In recent months, the structural weaknesses in our economy have been made worse by global factors such as a rising oil price, weakening sentiment towards emerging markets and deteriorating trade relations between the US and other major economies.

This has negatively affected South Africans.

It is in response to these factors, many of which are outside our control, that we are announcing today, following its adoption by Cabinet, an economic stimulus and recovery plan.

The stimulus and recovery plan we are outlining consists of a range of measures, both financial and non-financial, that will be implemented immediately to firstly ignite economic activity, secondly restore investor confidence, thirdly prevent further job losses and create new jobs, and fourthly to address some urgent challenges that affect the conditions faced by vulnerable groups among our people.

The measures we are announcing give priority to those areas of economic activity that will have the greatest impact on youth, women and small businesses.

The stimulus and recovery plan has four broad parts:

Firstly, implementation of growth enhancing economic reforms.

Secondly, reprioritisation of public spending to support job creation.

Thirdly, the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund.
Fourthly, addressing urgent and pressing matters in education and health.

Fifthly, investing in municipal social infrastructure improvement.

It is generally agreed that in order for our economy to grow at a rate that will lead to job creation on a meaningful scale, we need to significantly increase levels of investment.

We are decisively and rapidly accelerating the implementation of key economic reforms that will unlock greater investment in important growth sectors.

These reforms include immediate changes approved by Cabinet to South Africa’s visa regime.

Within the next few months, amendments will be made to regulations on the travel of minors, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa will be reviewed, an e-visas pilot will be implemented, and the visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners will be revised.

These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive.

Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa.

It is imperative that South Africa restores investment and exploration levels in the mining sector as mining and mineral beneficiation activities have significant potential to drive long term growth, exports and job growth.

Following extensive consultation that involved industry players, communities, labour and government, Cabinet approved the revised Mining Charter.

This will revitalise the mining industry and provide certainty to investors while charting a sustainable path towards a transformed and inclusive industry.

Parliament will be requested in terms of its Rules not to proceed with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill, which has contributed to a lot of uncertainty in the sector.

Separate legislation for the regulation of the oil and gas industry will be drafted through the government’s legislative process.

To reduce the cost of doing business, to boost exports and to make South African industry more competitive, government has begun a review of various administered prices, starting with electricity, port and rail tariffs.

Within the next few weeks, government will initiate the process for the allocation of high-demand radio spectrum to enable licensing.

This will unlock significant value in the telecommunications sector, increase competition, promote investment and reduce data costs.

Lower data costs will also provide relief for poor households and increase the overall competitiveness of the South African economy.

Other measures we will implement include expanding procurement from small business and cooperatives, as well as using trade measures – within WTO rules – to protect poultry and other sensitive sectors and a vigorous crackdown on illegal imports.

The central element of the economic stimulus and recovery plan is the reprioritisation of spending towards activities that have the greatest impact on economic growth, domestic demand and job creation, with a particular emphasis on township and rural economies, women and youth.

Our government has limited fiscal space to increase spending or borrowing, it is imperative that we make sure that the resources that we do have are used to the greatest effect.

The reprioritisation of spending we are outlining as part of this stimulus and recovery plan will take place within the current fiscal framework and in line with the normal budgetary process.

Re-prioritised funding will be directed towards investments in agriculture and economic activity in townships and rural areas.

Agriculture has massive potential for job creation in the immediate and long term.

The interventions we have identified will include a package of support measures for black commercial farmers so as to, increase their entry into food value chains through access to infrastructure like abattoirs and feedlots.

Blended finance will be mobilised from the Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation and commercial banks.

The Land Bank is currently concluding transactions that will create employment opportunities in the agricultural sector over the next 3 to 5 years.

A significant portion of the funding will go towards export-oriented crops that are highly labour intensive.

Government will finalise the signing of 30 years leases to enable farmers to mobilise funding for agricultural development.

As part of the work to develop agriculture and ensure effective land reform, I have appointed an advisory panel on land reform that will guide the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.

The 10-person panel is to advise government on the implementation of a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.

Further details of the mandate and composition of the panel will be made available in a separate statement.

In the second instance, reprioritised funding will also be re-directed towards igniting economic activity in townships and rural areas.

We have prioritised the revitalisation of three regional and 26 township industrial parks as catalysts for broader economic and industrial development in townships and rural areas.

A township and rural entrepreneurship fund is being established to provide finance to either scale up existing projects or provide start-up capital for new projects.

In the third instance, we will also be re-directing resources towards addressing immediate challenges in health and education, which are critical to the health, wellbeing and productivity of our people.

Arising from the priorities identified at the meeting of the President’s Coordinating Council earlier this week, additional funds will be directed to addressing the dire state of sanitation facilities in many public schools, ensuring the completion of 1,100 sanitation projects in the current financial year.

To address some of the shortages in our hospitals, funding is being made available immediately to buy beds and linen, while the Minister of Health and the National Health Council will immediately fill 2,200 critical medical posts, including nurses and interns.

In total, the plan will result in reprioritised expenditure and new project level funding of around R50 billion.

The Minister of Finance will provide more detail about the final amounts involved and the specific areas affected during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement next month.

The stimulus and recovery plan prioritises infrastructure spending as a critical driver of economic activity.

Infrastructure expansion and maintenance has the potential to create jobs on a large scale, attract investment and lay a foundation for sustainable economic expansion.

With a view to unlocking the potential to create more jobs on a large scale we have decided to set up a South Africa Infrastructure Fund, which will fundamentally transform our approach to the rollout, building and implementation of infrastructure projects.

The lessons we learnt in the 2010 World Cup infrastructure rollout will stand us in good stead as we set out this fund.

 

The South Africa Infrastructure Fund will reduce the current fragmentation of infrastructure spend and ensure more efficient and effective use of resources.

The private sector will be invited to enter into meaningful partnerships with government in this fund.

The contribution from the fiscus towards the Infrastructure Fund over the medium-term expenditure framework period would be in excess of R400 billion, which we will use to leverage additional resources from developmental finance institutions, multilateral development banks, and private lenders and investors.

To ensure these funds are used effectively and that projects are completed on time and on budget, we are establishing a dedicated Infrastructure Execution Team in the Presidency that has extensive project management and engineering expertise to assist with project design and oversee implementation.

The team will identify and quantify ‘shovel ready’ public sector projects, such as roads and dams, and engage the private sector to manage delivery.

The role of the PICC will be strengthened to ensure improved coordination across the three spheres.

As part of the reprioritisation of spending, additional infrastructure funding will be directed towards provincial and national roads, human settlements, water infrastructure, schools, student accommodation and public transport.

In support of the stimulus efforts, the IDC will be targeting to increase its approvals to R20 billion over 12 months, an increase of 20% on the previous year.

This funding will target the productive sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, mining, industrial infrastructure and sectors in distress.

We also need short term municipal investments to address the challenges that our people face.

We have identified 57 priority pilot municipalities in order to unlock infrastructure spending in the short term.

This spending will cover, among other things, sewerage purification and reticulation, refuse sites, electricity reticulation and water reservoirs.

Cutting across all these measures are series of interventions to ensure that growth is labour intensive and that young people in particular are drawn into the labour market.

Some of these measures include the extension of the Employment Tax Incentive for a further 10 years, with a review after five years, greater support for public employment programmes, additional support for the clothing and textiles sector, and the use of funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund to support labour activation programmes.

Igniting economic activity requires partnership and collaboration.

It must be a national effort in which all of us work together to restore our economy to growth in the immediate term and prepare the ground for sustainable, inclusive growth into our future.

We have held consultations with leaders from business and labour on this plan.

We are encouraged by the support they have pledged for the measures outlined and many have undertaken to provide resources and expertise to ensure its success.

We continue to draw on the guidance and support of bodies like the National Planning Commission, which will soon release its own guidance on focal areas to stimulate the economy, and Government will continue to coordinate its work with formations like the CEO Initiative.

We are certain that the measures we have outlined here will complement the deliberations at the forthcoming Jobs Summit.

We are certain that these interventions will help to put the economy on a far firmer footing as current investors and potential investors convene in Johannesburg for the Investment Conference at the end of October.

As South Africans, we have confronted challenges far greater than this before.

By working together, we managed to end a seemingly intractable conflict and set our country on the path to a peaceful transition to democracy.

Now, we have it within us to come together once more and forge a new path of growth, jobs and transformation.

We are confident that the four elements of our economic stimulus and recovery package will play a decisive role in reversing the recent contraction of the South African economy.

Together, we are taking bold and concrete measures to ensure a clear and sustained improvement in the lives of all South Africans.

I thank you.

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress

BIKO LEGACY AS RELEVANT AS EVER

The murder of Bantu Steven Biko at the hands of the apartheid police 41 years ago inflicted a devastating loss not just on the Biko family, but on our nation.

In the week that we commemorate his cruel death, we also honour and celebrate a remarkable life; one dedicated to the pursuit of freedom, equality and truth.

Bantu Steven Biko was a great, but humble, revolutionary who fiercely rejected the false hierarchy of races. He spoke with a burning eloquence of the essential humanity of all people.

He understood that the system of apartheid was predicated on the deliberate lie of white supremacy and black inferiority – and that this lie was perpetuated by those who sought to preserve white economic privilege at the direct expense and to the exclusion of the black majority.

His philosophy centred on establishing the principles for a new and more humane society.

He said: “We have set out on a quest for true humanity and somewhere in the distant horizon we can see the glittering prize. Let us march forth with courage and determination, drawing strength from our common plight and our brotherhood. In time we shall be in a position to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible — a more human face.”

The Black Consciousness Movement, McQueen writes in ““Black Consciousness and the Progressive Movements Under Apartheid – was “a protean movement, the product of its time…  the Black consciousness movement drew from diverse trajectories of the ideas constituted in distinct places, ideas moulded to fit a purpose – to resuscitate black pride and to generate a renewed project of political empowerment. Black consciousness emphasise the way of life, which those oppressed by apartheid should adopt, to embody a liberated mind.”

What Biko sought to articulate was the lived experience of black people; to restore the true humanity of all people, black and white, and to build a society in which there would be no majority, nor a minority. Just people, free, fulfilled and at peace.

It is that quest – for a true humanity – that must lie at the core of our every endeavour.

For decades, this quest has been a constant companion to the struggles of our people for freedom, dignity and respect.

It was present at the formation of the liberation movements, during the campaigns of defiance, the strikes and the stayaways and the armed resistance.

It is found within seminal documents like the African Claims and the Freedom Charter, in the writings of Pixley ka Seme, Sol Plaatje, Alex la Guma, Bessie Head, Steve Biko and others.

Now, in another time, under different circumstances, as we confront new and sometimes unexpected challenges, we are driven by this goal.

To succeed, we must start – as Steve Biko did – with affirming our own sense of self.

Biko taught us the revolutionary value of the confidence of black people in their own humanity and identity.

He spoke of the debilitating effect of centuries of colonialism on the psyche of black people, making them complicit in perpetuating a sense of inferiority.

His answer, black consciousness, was for the black person to see themselves as being complete in themselves.

Biko sought to lead his people to claim their rightful place at the table of humanity – not under the table or at the side of the table.

His ideas are timeless and universal – and are no less powerful and no less relevant today.

Even as we have built a democratic state, the psychological and physical vestiges of institutionalised racism persist.

Even today, we observe, in ways both subtle and crude, the residue of a sense of entitlement and a dose of arrogance amongst some of our white compatriots. Likewise, we still observe black submission in some circles.

This prejudice that lurks below the surface is from time to time given virulent expression, particularly on social media.

It is a measure of the progress we have made, and of the impact of leaders like Steve Biko and Oliver Tambo, that society reacts with revulsion to racist outbursts.

However, we are acutely aware that whilst naked racism is an aberration, the material manifestation of racism – white wealth and black poverty – is the norm.

It is our responsibility to both confront deeply embedded feelings of inferiority that manifest in submission – and also deal with superiority that is expressed in supremacy. This should then enable us to work to overcome the economic and social inequality that underpins them.

This is not confined to race.

Throughout history, there are few relationships more unequal than those between men and women.

Women bear the brunt of centuries of discrimination and oppression, imposed in this case not by a colonial power, but by the traditions, practices and institutions of the societies into which they were born.

The struggle against patriarchy is therefore a struggle against the social norms, the attitudes and the thoughts that embolden men and enfeeble women.

As black consciousness is a necessary part of the response to racism, so too is the self-affirmation of women necessary for the achievement of gender equality.

The assertion by women of their own power and agency is the foundation on which we must work together to eradicate all forms and manifestations of patriarchy.

It is a necessary condition for the improvement of the economic status of women and the achievement of real equality in all areas of life.

Our quest for a true humanity requires that we end poverty.

No society can be free for as long as any member is denied the basic requirements of life – food, shelter, water, security, work.

When poverty is so widespread, when it is so deeply embedded in the structure of society, when it has existed for as long as any of us can remember, then there is a real danger that we learn to live with it and accept it as part and parcel of our existence.

We should not, and cannot, accept that poverty is an inevitable feature of the human condition.

Because the face of poverty in South Africa is that of an African woman, our task is to address the racial and gender dimensions of economic exclusion.

This means, in the first instance, that we must educate the black child and the girl child.

If we are to end inter-generational poverty, we must ensure that every child receives a comprehensive quality education from the early years until adulthood.

This is the reason why we have invested so extensively in early childhood development and why we have made higher education free to the children of the poor and working class.

It is for this reason too that we continue to give attention to the physical state of our schools, the availability of resources and the quality of learning, teaching and leadership.

Despite the progress made over the last two decades, inequality in education remains one of the greatest obstacles to the achievement of a just and prosperous future.

The fault-lines of race, gender, class and geography are nowhere more distinct than with regards to access to a decent education.

Unless we correct this as a matter of priority, we will not reduce inequality and we will not end poverty.

This requires a shift in social mindset, where few things are valued more than knowledge and learning – and where parents, relatives, friends and neighbours take a keen interest in the development of the young mind.

It requires teachers, principals, administrators, elected representatives and political formations who place at the centre of their efforts the promotion of educational excellence.

We must be a society where the burning of a school, the trashing of a library, is a great affront to our moral sensibilities.

Our quest for a true humanity must be rooted in a genuine sense of solidarity.

For the last three centuries, the history of our country has been defined by the deprivation of the many to enable the enrichment of the few.

Today, our people continue to live that history.

Millions live without work, without land, without security, without opportunity.

And yet, our Constitution – which is readily embraced by all South Africans – enjoins us not only to recognise the injustices of the past, but also to ensure equitable redress of historical iniquity.

Since the advent of democracy, we have progressively directed resources towards meeting the needs of the poor, providing assets in the form of land and houses, equalising spending on education, health and social grants, and investing in infrastructure in previously neglected areas.

We have enacted legislation and implemented policies to improve the representation of blacks, women and people with disability in the economy, to encourage the development of black and women entrepreneurs, and to increase black ownership of the economy.

These efforts have met with some success, but have not done nearly enough to reduce inequality or overcome exclusion.

We are therefore called upon to embark on an extensive programme of fundamental redistribution that closes the gap between those who have and those who have not, between white and black, and between men and women.

It requires the involvement of all within society – with those who have most been prepared to make the greatest contribution.

It requires a recognition by those who are the beneficiaries of decades of racial privilege that they have both a responsibility and a vested interest in ending privilege and effecting redress.

Inequality severely constrains our ability as a country to realise our potential, it limits growth, perpetuates hardship and promotes instability.

We must therefore become a society defined by solidarity, not competition.

We must build a society that is defined by compassion, selflessness and generosity.

The BC Movement encouraged those amongst black people who had become better off to demonstrate compassion by getting involved in community work.

Unlike its characterisation as a movement of predominantly intellectuals, black consciousness activists had a strong ethos of community involvement and students were encouraged to plough back their skills and knowledge into their local communities.

A practical expression of this was how the BC Movement went around setting up clinics in deep rural areas of our country to empower our people. Dr Mamphela Ramphele was at the cutting edge of this development.

Our quest for a true humanity requires that we have leaders of integrity and a society that values honesty and hard work.

As we emerge from the corruption of apartheid, we are called upon to forge a new morality, which places the interests of the people above the narrow interests of the individual.

We must give practical effect to the expression: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’

In this the 25th year of our democracy, we must acknowledge with shame and regret that we have failed to live up to the standards of the selfless leaders that came before us.

We now know of powerful individuals who used positions of authority to plunder the resources of the state, threatening our economic sustainability and further impoverishing our people.

We now know of business people whose reckless and fraudulent actions eroded the savings of many ordinary people.

Astounded as we are by the devastating audacity of one family and their associates, we should not be blinded to the corruption that has taken hold in many institutions across government.

This requires firm, decisive and united action.

We have begun the work, but there is much more to do.

Commissions of Inquiry, disciplinary hearings, criminal prosecution and lengthy prison sentences are necessary instruments to tackle this scourge.

But ultimately, we will not succeed unless we forge a new morality.

We need leaders who serve with diligence and commitment, seeking neither advantage nor undue rewards for themselves.

Every citizen needs to respect the rights and property of others, respect the law and be respected by the law.

We must rise above the differences of colour, faith, creed and affiliation to pursue a common mission.

We must draw on the example of Steve Biko, who belonged to a special generation of young and fearless patriots who kept the flames of liberation burning.

He and leaders like Professor Harry Nengwekhulu and Rev Barney Pityana bequeathed to our nation a cohort of leaders who were politicised in the South African Student Organisation and sharpened their revolutionary skills in struggle.

The Black Consciousness Movement gave rise to an enduring consciousness among oppressed South Africans; who found political homes in different organisations but shared a common commitment to end a crime against humanity.

Bantu Steve Biko led people, not parties.

His revolution was one of the mind, not one of membership.

The alumni of his movement are spread across many formations and are found in many parts of society and different geographies.

Steve Biko was a selfless revolutionary whose epoch defining ideas contributed significantly in making South Africa what it is today.

His thoughts continue to guide us in our quest for a true humanity.

So, let us march forth, as Steve Biko called on us to do, with courage and determination to bestow upon South Africa the greatest gift possible – a more human face.

 

By President Cyril Ramaphosa

WE SHOULD WORK WITH CHINA TO BUILD THE AFRICA WE WANT

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which met in Beijing earlier this week, has become an essential platform for Africa’s social and economic advancement. The progress that has been made in the 18 years since FOCAC was established demonstrates the tangible and lasting benefit of the forum to Africa and China.

The relationship that has been forged through FOCAC is premised on the fundamental and inalienable right of the African people to determine their own future. It is premised on the African Union’s Agenda 2063. It is a vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena. It is a vision of a continent where commerce, trade, investment, skills and knowledge move freely across the borders that were imposed on us by our colonial rulers.

We are working to build an Africa that is defined by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, where all its people live in peace and security. It is an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics. Importantly, it is an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the capability and potential of its people.

Through FOCAC, China has shown that it is a valuable and committed partner in advancing Agenda 2063. China’s economic ascendance over the last three decades has been remarkable. It is now the world’s second largest economy and third largest foreign investor. It has lifted millions of its people out of poverty and has met almost all of the Millennium Development Goals. There are many valuable lessons that Africa can learn from China’s impressive growth model and its approach to meeting the needs of its people. Significantly, China has used its substantial capacity and resources as a catalyst for development in other markets.

China is currently Africa’s largest trade partner. However, much of what is exported from Africa are raw materials and primary products, and much of what is imported from China are finished goods. This obviously limits the ability of African countries to extract the full value for their abundant natural resources and to create work for their people. We should use platforms like FOCAC to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China.

China has also become a major investor on the continent. As we look to expand Chinese investment in Africa, we need to encourage more local partnerships between Chinese and African entrepreneurs. Through the transfer of knowledge and technology, such partnerships can contribute to the development and sustainability of African businesses. They will be contributing to the expansion of Africa’s productive capacity and the creation of new industries.

It is important also that we promote investment-led trade between Africa and China, which addresses the nature and quality of investment in Africa. We should seek inward investment that enables industrial development and the export of more value-added products.

Developments on the African continent are further expanding on the potential benefits of cooperation. Great opportunities will be created through the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It will establish a single market of more than a billion people with considerable economic potential. It will promote the industrialisation of African economies and position the continent as a global competitor. This should provide a greater incentive for Chinese companies to invest in Africa.

The economic value of FOCAC – to both Africa and China – is particularly important in the context of an increasingly uncertain global environment. Global economic volatility and heightened concerns about peace and stability render developing countries particularly vulnerable. There is a renewed threat to the rules-based multilateral global trading system, which although imperfect, does provide stability, predictability and a greater degree of fairness.

We should be using platforms such as FOCAC to reaffirm our shared commitment to multilateralism, a fair and transparent system of international trade and a global economic architecture that promotes the interests of the developing world.

Africa is the next frontier growth market in the world. In the coming decades, it will create many opportunities, not only for its people, but also for economic partners such as China. China’s investment in Africa, its strengthening trade ties and its consistent support for Africa’s development will benefit the people of Africa and the people of China well into the future.

As African countries, we need to work together to ensure that platforms like FOCAC effectively serve the interests of our people and contribute to achieving the Africa we want.

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress

A COMPREHENSIVE LAND REFORM PROGRAMME THAT ENABLES EQUITABLE ACCESS TO LAND WILL UNLOCK ECONOMIC GROWTH

The African National Congress has just recently concluded a two-day NEC Lekgotla in Tshwane.

The Lekgotla focused on a number of issues, including the current status of our economy, job creation and land reform.

It further engaged on issues of governance, social development and broader transformation which will be elaborated on by the Secretary General tomorrow.

We thought that it was important for the President of the ANC to clearly and unambiguously articulate the position of the organisation on two matters that are critical to the economic development of our country and the well-being of its people.   

The first is the implementation of of the ANC’s resolution on land reform.   

The second is about the current   economic environment.

On land reform, the ANC applauds our people, from all walks of life – including the rural poor, farm labourers, the unemployed, the landless, urban residents, farmers and traditional leaders – for expressing their views on this critical matter.

Our people have been expressing their views on the land question openly and without any fear or favour.

They have been putting forward solutions on how the land question can be resolved.

This is the constitutional democracy that we fought for.

The ANC reaffirms its position that the Constitution is a mandate for radical transformation both of society and the economy.

A proper reading of the Constitution on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation andalso expropriation without compensation in the public interest.

It has become patently clear that our people want the Constitution be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings.

There is also a growing body of opinion, by a number of South Africans, that the constitution as it stands does not impede expropriation of land without compensation.

The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by  bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy.

Accordingly, the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.   

The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security.

It will also transform the unjust spatial realities in urban areas.

To accelerate agrarian reform, the ANC has further directed government to urgently initiate farmer support programmes in depressed areas before the first rains this year.   

This should include supporting farmers with tools, tractors, fertilisers, seeds, extension services, finance and access to key infrastructure.

Our economy is facing serious challenges. The recently released figures on unemployment are worrying.

Given this economic environment, the Lekgotla directed government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women.

These efforts should focus on rural communities and townships.   

This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments while remaining committed to fiscal prudence.

It will comprise, amongst others, of the following:     

  • Increased investment in public infrastructure.    
  • Increased support for entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth and women, as well as small and medium businesses    
  • Trade support measures for sectors such as sugar and products affected by big import surges    
  • Ensure that procurement focuses on localization     
  • Training for unemployed young South Africans with the skills necessary to compete in a rapidly-changing economy. 

As deployees of the ANC in government, we have committed that the work to develop this stimulus should start now to ignite growth, tackle unemployment and mitigate the effects of the rising cost of living.

We call on all South Africans to work with us in developing a social compact for economic inclusion, economic growth and jobs for all.   

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress

TECHNOLOGY FOR AN INCLUSIVE FUTURE

Were it not for the constraints of time and geography, this week’s summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa would have taken place on the chilly plains of the Karoo.

For there is probably be no more fitting place to hold the 10th BRICS Summit than in the shadow of Meerkat, the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope for space observation. The telescope, which will form part of the Square Kilometre Array, is more than a demonstration of Africa’s technological prowess. As it examines the history of the universe, the Meerkat is writing our future.

It is this future – of technology, innovation and inclusive development – that will dominate deliberations at the BRICS Summit, to be held in Johannesburg on 25-27 July 2018.

As the host country, South Africa has chosen to focus on collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the fourth industrial revolution. This theme reflects the core priorities developed in the first decade of the BRICS Forum. The five countries have committed themselves to the creation of inclusive development by advancing global partnerships based on mutual benefit and openness. They have been working together to address common challenges that will bring prosperity to all humankind.

As technological change accelerates, as the fourth industrial revolution begins to reshape economies and redefine the nature of work, the BRICS countries have recognised the need for greater cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

Last year, they adopted the BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation, which stressed innovation as a key to global sustainable development as it unlocks human potential through entrepreneurship, job creation and economic growth.

Among the areas on which BRICS countries have agreed to cooperate are innovation advancement and technology transfer, science parks and incubators, and the application of geospatial technology. Through these agreements, the BRICS countries have set themselves on a path to realise the empowerment of our countries in the next phase of global economic development.

As it assumes the chairship of BRICS, South Africa is aiming to consolidate the progress over the last few years by establishing a framework on the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is geared towards support for industrialisation and sustainable development.

However, many developing countries, particularly on our continent, do not have the underlying skills and infrastructure to be able to compete at a global level. Some of our partners in BRICS have successfully confronted these challenges and there is much that we can gain from their experiences. They have adopted industrial and regulatory policies that support the development of high speed internet infrastructures and secure data spaces.

One of the main economic and social challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a possible increase in inequality, driven by the substitution of automation for labour, displacing workers and exacerbating the gap between returns to capital and returns to labour. Training and educational policies therefore must be put in place to support the development of new skills, including re-training of existing employees.

In this rapidly changing global economy, our countries must invest in the development of young scientists to reap the economic and social benefits of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The architecture of the next industrial revolution must be inclusive. The citizens of the developing economies should not be treated only as consumers of technology, but pathways must be open for them to participate also as developers and managers of innovation.

If we contribute to setting the global science agenda, then the solutions that technology produces will be able to advance our specific developmental interests. This requires the concerted development of human scientific capital.

Sustainable global development needs intensified dialogue among all nations and committed engagement to work together. No country or research group can work or succeed alone. Resources need to be pooled and expertise shared.

The BRICS Forum is an ideal platform for this type of collaboration. It brings together countries with differing levels of technological and scientific capabilities, each with something to contribute to a collective effort. The opportunities for the exchange of ideas, technology and skills are limitless. As the BRICS Forum enters the second decade of its existence it must place the potential of technology for inclusive development at the centre of its agenda. In doing so, it will ensure that it remains relevant and that it makes a significant and lasting impact on the lives of its 3.1 billion citizens.

By President Cyril Ramaphosa

 

 

 

QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL IS WITHIN REACH

With the recent release of the National Health Insurance Bill, South Africa is one step closer to achieving universal health coverage for all its people and the realisation of the demand of the Freedom Charter that “free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all.”

National Health Insurance (NHI) provides a real opportunity for the present health system to be overhauled towards a universal system where people will access quality care based on need and contribute towards its funding according to ability to pay.

Since the Bill was released for public comment, two questions have dominated debate on the NHI – what will it cost and can the country afford it?

South Africa, with its current two-tiered and unequal health care model, has one of the most expensive health systems in the world. We presently spend more than R420 billion on health care. Half of this amount is used by only 17% of the population. We pay more per person on health care than most middle income countries.

The provisional report of the Health Market Inquiry headed by Judge Sandile Ngcobo, which was released last week, highlights the high and rising costs of health care and medical scheme cover even when the range of services are declining. The report points to the unaffordability of private health insurance. This is compounded by inequalities in access to health facilities, specialists and a geographic concentration in the urban areas.

Despite what we spend on health care, many of our health outcomes have been disappointing. Our infant, child and maternal mortality rates are much higher than expected for a country of our level of development. There are also many inefficiencies in a two-tiered health care system. This means that current costs are not a reliable basis for projecting the future cost of a universal health system.

We need to change the present cost structure of our health care system and significantly improve efficiencies. Doing this will improve outcomes. There is no truth to the claim that covering all South Africans with good quality care will cost more than we currently spend. We can, in fact, secure substantial savings by covering everyone under a common National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

One of the important principles we should embrace as a nation is social solidarity. We will be able to achieve greater social solidarity between the rich and poor, young and old, healthy and sick, by pooling most health funds into NHIF. Mandatory prepayment through payroll taxes to the NHIF, for example, would be significantly less than what people now contribute to medical schemes.

It will enable government to ensure cost effective prices, medicines and supplies. The NHIF can build on recent achievements by the Department of Health in securing significant savings from R2.3 billion on antiretroviral drugs and R4.4 billion on vaccines.

We will also be able to make sure that the money from NHI Fund does not pay for things that have nothing to do with health care, such as medical scheme administration, brokers and marketing.

We will save money also by investing in primary health care, strengthening referral systems and devolving hospital management responsibilities to hospital CEOs and contributing to efficiency gains.

We therefore need not be transfixed on the costs alone but on the efficiencies and savings that NHI will bring to the entire health system. No amount of precision cost calculation will outweigh the real public benefit of improved quality of life for our people.

South Africa has the resources to finance NHI. The biggest problem in our country is not having sufficient funding to finance health care provision; it is how we allocate our existing health financial resources to provide everyone good quality health care.

Our health system has so far allowed and encouraged massive inequalities, where those with high income have access to the best private health care and those who have low or no income but have greatest health needs are required to access health care services in under-resourced and overcrowded public health facilities.

Currently government continues to finance these inequalities by paying medical aid premiums for state employees and giving tax breaks and rebates for those who contribute to medical schemes.

This adds to inequities and inefficiencies within and between the public and private health sectors. That is why we are committed to transforming how we finance the health care system. As outlined in the White Paper on the National Health Insurance, we will do so by moving beyond the existing fragmented public and private health financing systems to create a common modern universal health financing system which is cost-effective, professionally run, trusted by citizens and provides protection against costly health services.

We will move from a voluntary to a mandatory prepayment system, which means that there will be no need for payments at the point of use or service. This does not mean the abolishment of medical schemes, as they will provide complementary cover and continue to exist side by side with the NHI.

We will need to raise additional revenue for health care to supplement existing resources in the public sector but the total spend will still be below what we spend overall as a percentage of GDP.

We will also achieve savings by purchasing health care products and services from a mix of accredited public and private providers. This will enable economies of scale to achieve cost-efficiency, and deliver quality services and continuous  improvements in health outcomes

The NHI will be predominantly funded through general tax revenue allocations through the national budget, supplemented by a payroll tax payable by employers and employees and a surcharge on individuals’ taxable income to support the social solidarity principle. This will work out much lower than what poor and rich households currently pay as their contribution to medical scheme premiums.

We remain committed to ensure that NHI is adequately financed and that it enables all to have access to quality health care. It will be implemented in a phased manner, informed by evidence and guided by experience, to ensure that it is sustainable. The question is not whether South Africa can afford to implement universal health coverage, but whether it can afford not to.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO RADICAL TRANSFORMATION

On Tuesday 26 June, South Africans celebrated the anniversary of the adoption in 1955 of the Freedom Charter, a document that provides a compelling vision of the society to which we all aspire. It envisages a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, a South Africa in which the country’s wealth is shared among all its people.

As we intensify the struggle for the achievement of this goal, the struggle for radical economic transformation, we should look for guidance to one of the most celebrated statements of the Freedom Charter, that: “The doors of learning and culture shall be opened!”

This is because the most effective way to end poverty and reduce inequality is by providing young South Africans with education and training opportunities. It is broadly accepted that the purpose of education is, among other things, to develop the intellect of the nation, to serve social needs, and to contribute to the economy by developing skilled workers. Our country’s skills deficit is one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and development. It retards investment, sustains income equality and contributes to the high rate of youth unemployment.

As the country embarks on a new path of jobs, growth and transformation, we need to mobilise all South Africans in support of a skills revolution. This means we need to dramatically improve access to quality education for the poor, undertake a massive skills development effort and focus on disciplines that are needed in the economy now and into the future.

In the year that South Africa marks the 65th anniversary of the notorious Bantu Education Act, the ANC’s January 8th Statement says the country needs to sustain its significant investment in education to enable us to modernise our economy, improve the beneficiation of our natural resources and prepare our workforce for the fourth industrial revolution.

We need to build on the significant progress that has been made in education and skills development, especially in ensuring access for the poor. Around 77% of learners in public high schools now receive free basic education and there are currently almost a million students enrolled in higher education. There were only just over 500,000 students enrolled in higher education in 1994. Today Government provides free meals to nearly 12 million school children every day.

The decision to provide fee-free higher education to all students from poor and working class backgrounds, which is being implemented in a phased manner from this year, will make a significant dent in the skills deficit. It will ensure that young people from poor families can gain skills and have greater access in far greater numbers to opportunities that they had previously been denied. This will help to reduce poverty and inequality. It will give the economy an important boost as more graduates enter the workplace and the pool of qualified professionals expands.

This is taking place alongside a significant investment in TVET colleges, which need to develop the technical skills that are needed for the country’s major industrialisation drive. Work is underway to reposition TVET colleges as viable and attractive places of study for more school leavers. Partnerships between these colleges and the companies that need their skills will form an essential part of this effort. Such partnerships are needed to bridge the gap between the training provided and the skills that the economy needs. There is a need for companies, particularly the larger corporates and state owned enterprises to forge practical and effective partnerships, with TVET colleges in the development of vocational skills by ensuring that there is alignment between theoretical training with practical work experience.

The skills revolution requires that we take decisive measures to reduce inequality in the education system and significantly improving learning outcomes. Despite the creation of a single education system after 1994, there is still a great difference between the quality of education available to the poor and the wealthy.

We are working to address this through a massive investment in early childhood development to ensure that the children of the poor get the start that they need. Today, there are nearly a million children in early childhood development. We are also working to improve the leadership and management of schools, understanding that these are crucial determinants of educational success. As we work to improve the matric pass rate, we are also focusing on the ‘throughput rate’, which means ensuring that more learners who start in primary school stay in school and complete their schooling.

To achieve our educational objectives, we need to become a reading nation. From an early age, children should be taught to read and should grow up to love books and learning. This isn’t a task only of schools; it is a task that everyone in society should embrace. Government needs to work with civil society and community organisations on a national campaign to promote reading and literacy.

Only 15% of South Africans are said to read books regularly and yet countries like Russia have up to 85% of their population reading books regularly. We can improve on this.

The country needs to prepare for the reality that the fourth industrial revolution is going to displace a lot of people from traditional jobs. There is already much change in the world of work and more and more people need to be trained in different skills to enable them to be better prepared for other tasks. With the support of the SETAs, companies need to re-skill and retrain their employees.

We need to seize the opportunities of technology for reducing barriers to effective education for the poor. Used effectively, technology can reduce costs, overcome problems of distance and engage students in interactive learning beyond the classroom. These are among the reasons why we need to speed up processes towards making broadband affordable and universally available.

We have already done much to satisfy the demand of the Freedom Charter that: “Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children.” We have also made important progress towards ensuring that “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”.

To achieve the skills revolution we require, we must build a social compact involving unions, government, the private sector and non-governmental organisations in promoting the development of skills at all levels, both in the formal sense and informally.

We should encourage lifelong learning, where all citizens make it their duty to develop their skills on an ongoing basis. Community colleges should be dedicated to equipping people with skills they can use to improve their lives.

A skills revolution means that every South African must have a desire to gain skills which they can use to become economically active either as an employee or as a self-employed person.

If we are to achieve the radical social and economic transformation envisaged in the Freedom Charter, then we cannot wait any longer for such a skills revolution, one that fundamentally changes the capabilities and the fortunes of the youth of South Africa.

Cyril Ramaphosa