President Cyril Ramaphosa has sought to thrust the National Development Plan (NDP) back into the spotlight as a blueprint to grow the economy, saying now is “not the moment to redraft policy”.
SA’s economy shrank by 3.2% in the first three months of the year, according to Stats SA. If GDP again contracts in the following quarter, the country will enter its second recession in two years.
“The NDP is our lodestar,” reads an extract from Ramaphosa’s overview of the ANC’s recent national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla. “This is not the moment to redraft policy. It is the moment to implement”.
Ramaphosa’s views were published in the most recent edition of the party’s newsletter, ANC Today. They follow a week of contradictory messages from ANC heavyweights around the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank, which contributed to a decline in the rand, raised fears of ratings agencies and concern among investors.
He emphasised that unity among ANC members is crucial to ensure the public trusts the governing party.
“When we fight in public, it will impact on the trust the people have placed in us. Our actions and words must reassure the people that they can trust us to lead society going forward,” he said.
The NDP is the state’s long-term blueprint for growing the economy and cutting unemployment. It has has a goal of 5.4% annual GDP growth. Current projections put SA’s 2019 GDP growth at around 1%.
Ramaphosa emphasised the need to implement the ANC’s Manifesto.
“People are looking to us, to act now,” he wrote. “People are tired of empty promises. Our manifesto promises to put in place an economy that serves all the people of the country and in which all have a meaningful stake and can benefit.”
Focus on jobs
The president said the creation of jobs is at the centre of the party’s economic programme, which in turn requires boosting investment levels. SA’s unemployment rate is 27.6%.
“Employment creation requires far higher rates of growth, which in turn requires a massive investment drive. This means we need to create a conducive environment, reduce the costs of doing business, improve investor confidence, ensure policy consistency and address visa issues.”
Ramaphosa singled out youth unemployment, which he said was at unacceptably high levels, as a major challenge.
“[W]e need to stretch every sinew and muscle to create significant numbers of jobs and economic opportunities for young people. We can do more to reduce the social and economic costs of looking and waiting for jobs.”
He said this can be done through creating opportunities in formal employment by working with the private and public sectors. “We can also create more work-experience and internship opportunities and promote community service or self-employment and enterprises.”
Ramaphosa said the ANC will undertake all efforts at land reform in a manner that redresses historical injustices, strengthens the economy and ensures ongoing food security.
“We must revive the parliamentary process begun during the 5th Parliament and conclude the process to clarify the conditions under which expropriation without compensation will take place.”