President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening outlined his vision for government for the next five years, emphasising that a strong social compact was needed "if we are to achieve the South Africa we want".
"We need to forge durable partnerships between government, business, labour, communities and civil society," said the President, as he delivered the first State of the Nation Address of the sixth Parliament in Cape Town.
President Ramaphosa reminded the nation that to build a South Africa we want, placed a responsibility "on each of us and all of us."
"Working together there is nothing we cannot be, nothing we cannot do, and nothing we cannot achieve," the President said as he offered hope to the nation.
The President said while Government's task was to create an enabling environment, use public resources wisely and invest in developing the country's human potential, business on the other hand should consider the country's national strategic objectives and social considerations in their decisions and actions.
"We agree that labour should advance the interests of workers while, at the same time, promoting the sustainability of businesses and the creation of jobs.
"Civil society needs to continue to play its role in holding government to account but must also join us in practical actions to attain our common goals.
"We look to the parties in this Parliament to be a vital part of this partnership, lending support, insights and effort to promoting the national interest," the President said.
Not mincing his words, the President said the country was at an extremely difficult time; with the economy not growing and not enough jobs being created - yet there was still hope.
President Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of meeting the targets of the National Development Plan (NDP) which was adopted in 2012. The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
He bemoaned that with ten years to go before 2030, South Africa has not made adequate progress in meeting NDP targets.
He said that unless extraordinary measures are taken, the country will not realise Vision 2030.The President said therefore it was a time to make serious choices, and while these choices may not please everyone, they were necessary.
Defining the sixth administration, government will focus on the following seven priorities and all its programmes and policies across the departments and agencies will be directed in pursuit of these overarching tasks:
- Economic transformation and job creation
- Education, skills and health
- Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services
- Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
- Social cohesion and safe communities
- A capable, ethical and developmental state
- A better Africa and World
The President outlined his dream for achieving the South Africa we want.
"We want a South Africa wherein all enjoy comfort and prosperity," he said, which was the starting point.
He said in this South Africa, rail networks would be prioritized, producing high-speed trains connecting megacities and the remotest areas of the country.
"We should imagine a country where bullet trains pass through Johannesburg as they travel from here to Musina, and they stop in Buffalo City on their way from Ethekwini back here.
"We want a South Africa with a high-tech economy where advances in e-health, robotics and remote medicine are applied as we roll out the National Health Insurance."
He said the ideal South Africa would also not just simply export its raw materials but was one that was a manufacturing hub for key components used in electronics, in automobiles and in computers.
"I dream of a South Africa where the first entirely new city built in the democratic era rises, with skyscrapers, schools, universities, hospitals and factories," the President said, adding that this vision was fueled by conversations he had had with
Ministers Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Naledi Pandor, as well as with Jessie Duarte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He added that the latter's account of how China was building a new Beijing had helped to consolidate his own dream.
President Ramaphosa invited the nation to begin imaging this prospect, in the hope of creating "the South Africa we want."