I have done a lot for South Africa — Ramaphosa

By Zukile Majova
Political Editor

After months of being criticised for a not-so-impressive first term in office, President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his legacy.

The benefits may not be immediately felt but Ramaphosa insists a lot of work has been and is being done to get South Africa back on track.

He said this despite unemployment having shot up from 24% in 2019 to 32% today, while seven in 10 young people in some provinces are neither in school nor employed.

Economic growth, now at 0.9%, has been decreasing over the years, while load shedding has increased to over 300 days annually during the Ramaphosa years.

The actual cost of load shedding to the South Africa people has not been quantified but blackouts cost the economy over R300-billion in 2023.

During the debate on the State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa outlined key achievements of the last five years.

·       Growing the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic and regaining the two million jobs lost during the lockdown: Agricultural exports are on the rise at R247-billion at the end of 2022. The government has seen a massive increase in international tourist arrivals. In 2023, South Africa recorded a 29% increase in international tourist arrivals to 8.5-million visitors.

·       Over the last five years, the government has worked to reverse the decline over several years of investment by both the public and private sectors in capital projects, in infrastructure. He said government recognised that there was a structural problem in planning, designing, funding and managing projects.

·       Rebuilding infrastructure: Launched the Infrastructure Fund and Infrastructure South Africa to coordinate over R230-billion in energy, water and rural roads projects. At least 96 bridges are under construction.

·       Train services: Since the Covid-19 pandemic, operations have been restored in 26 of 40 commuter rail lines.

·       Eskom: After years of neglect, maintenance at Eskom plants has improved. A massive rollout of rooftop solar panels is underway in businesses and homes in South Africa driven by tax incentives from the state. More than 120 new private energy projects including in the renewable energy sector are underway.

·       The Presidential Employment Stimulus created jobs for over one million graduates as teacher assistants in over 23,000 schools and over 1,000 community-based organisations.

·       Social grants: Sustained existing social grants and introduced the R350 grant which benefits over nine million people and serves as a foundation for a basic income grant. Over 28-million South Africans now received social grants.

Other achievements include the rebuilding of the NPA, the Hawks, the Special Investigations Unit and the introduction of over 20,000 new police officers, with another 10,000 graduating later this year.

With the elections just months away, Ramaphosa has been selling an edited version of the ANC’s 30-year rule to potential voters.

His biggest embarrassment has been his involvement in former president Jacob Zuma’s years of state capture, during which over R1-trillion was mismanaged and looted by Zuma’s cronies.

Pictured above: President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his legacy during a post-Sona debate.

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