South Africa: President's Announcements a Blueprint for the Next Five Years

With much of President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech focusing on economic recovery, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel says the President's announcement of seven priority areas will be the country's blueprint for the next five years.

Patel said this to SAnews in reaction to the State of the Nation Address on Thursday night.

In his speech, the President announced seven priority areas to revive economic growth, including economic transformation and job creation; consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services; and spatial integration, human settlements and local government, among others.

"What the President did tonight was to place economic recovery, growth and jobs at the absolute centre of policy.

"He outlined in very concrete detail the opportunities in South Africa and in the African continent. So it is a blue print for the next five years, but there are very definite measures over the next twelve months," Patel said.

In his speech, the President also announced a need to improve the country's education, skills and health.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said the Department of Health will support what the President outlined in his speech.

"Indeed, health services need a lot of upgrading and we need to be able to make our people feel that the queues [are being] reduced, that drug stock counts need are being attended to and [we are making progress in implementing] the National Health Insurance.

"We are very happy with the President's guidance. We think that it is a practical issue and that we have to work on it," he said.

Meanwhile, the President said in his speech that the country has not built a new city in 25 years of democracy. He said 70% of South Africans are going to be living in the urban areas by 2030.

The cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Ethekwini are running out of space to accommodate all those who throng to the cities, the President said.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said the President put emphasis on partnerships.

"Government can never do it alone. You need to have partnerships with communities and the private sector to conceive this new idea.

"[The idea of building a new city founded on the technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution] is an idea that will give people hope again... We must just agree where to build this new city. This is very exciting. It is happening all over the world and we can do it too," said De Lille.

With the unemployment rate among young South Africans above 50%, President Ramaphosa described this as a national crisis that needs urgent attention.

With June being commemorated as Youth Month, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande said the President's speech was inspiring in this regard.

"He gave very clear pointers, particularly in the area for opportunities for young people. We need to create work for young people coming out of educational institutions, especially those from technical and vocational colleges," said the Minister.

With the changes anticipated to be brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Minister emphasized the need to channel young people towards high-tech industries.

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