By: Natasha Archary
President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted four key areas of focus in his 5th State of the Nation Address last night, 11th February.
The new budget for South Africa comes into effect on 24th February, but the President focused more on his administration’s deliveries on the October 2020 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and the COVID-19 stimulus package of April 2020.
High unemployment rate
Extending the R350 unemployment grant by three months and the UIF COVID-19 TERS support until 15thMarch, Ramaphosa highlighted an estimated 2 million South Africans lost their jobs in 2020.
The country’s unemployment rate now sits at 30.8%, and the President is banking on the private sector as the solution to job creation.
The four key priorities for 2021
- Overcoming COVID-19
- Accelerating economic recovery
- Implementing economic reforms to drive inclusive growth
- Fight corruption and strengthen the state
COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan
As expected, the pandemic weighed heavily on this year’s address. The President detailed that 9 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have been acquired, 80 000 of which will arrive in the country within a week.
There was still no clarity about the 1 million Astrazeneca vaccines purchased. The pandemic’s toll on the economy would continue in 2021 with a 7.2% decline forecast.
With the economy relying heavily on Eskom, Ramaphosa admitted that the state-owned power utility company would fall short on electricity demands for the next five years. Loadshedding is said to be a regular occurrence in the lives of South Africans.