Ramaphosa reflects on past year and way forward

SONA: Ramaphosa Pledges Economic Reform Including Developing Cannabis Industry. PHOTO: The Presidency

This year’s State of the Nation address saw the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, highlighting key components that the government will focus on this year as well as the success and challenges of the past year.

Ramaphosa said as in 2020, the priorities highlighted then would remain the core focus. This includes overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, a massive rollout of infrastructure, a substantial increase in local production, employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods, and the rapid expansion of energy generation capacity.

“To be effective, this social compact needs to include every South African and every part of our society. No one must be left behind. When I last addressed the state of our nation, we were deep in the throes of the worst pandemic in more than a century. Since COVID-19 reached our shores, we have endured successive waves of infection, the emergence of new variants and the devastating cost of nearly 100 000 recorded COVID-19 deaths. South Africans have responded to this grave threat with courage and resilience, with compassion and restraint,” said the President.

Ramaphosa said over the past two years, South Africa has taken unprecedented actions to strengthen the health system, build laboratory capacity and prevent infections.

“In a wave of generosity that swept the country, the Fund raised R3.4 billion from more than 300 000 individuals and 3000 companies and foundations. More than 400 individuals and 100 companies volunteered their time and services. The Fund has played a pivotal role in supporting the national health response and alleviating the humanitarian crisis. As the trajectory of the pandemic has continued to change, we have had to adapt and evolve.”’

“Our approach has been informed throughout by the best available scientific evidence, and we have stood out both for the quality of our scientists and for their involvement in every step of our response,” said Ramaphosa.

“During the past year, we have focused on accelerating our vaccine rollout. So far, we have administered 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Consequently, nearly 42% of all adults and 60% of everyone over 50 is fully vaccinated. We are now ready to enter a new phase in our management of the pandemic. It is our intention to end the national state of disaster as soon as we have finalised other measures under the National Health Act and other legislation to contain the pandemic. Nearly all restrictions on economic and social activity have already been lifted. Vaccines have proven to be the best defence we have against illness and death from COVID-19. If we all get vaccinated, continue to observe basic health measures and remain ever vigilant, we will be able to get on with our lives even with the virus in our midst, ”Ramaphosa added.

Blaine Jones