Working together, we have laid the basis for a better 2024

Monday, 11 December 2023

Working together, we have laid the basis for a better 2024
Dear Fellow South African, 
As the year draws to a close and the country prepares for the festive season, most South Africans would agree that this has been a difficult and challenging year.
Our economy has been weighed down by international events, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and instability in the global economy. Like many across the world, South Africans have faced a substantial rise in the cost of our living. Our post-COVID recovery has been held back by continuing loadshedding and inefficiency at our ports and railways.
Yet, even in these circumstances, companies have continued to invest in our economy. At the fifth South Africa Investment Conference earlier this year, we surpassed our target for new investment commitments over five years. Our economy has grown, albeit too slowly and far below its potential. The number of people in employment has returned to pre -COVID levels, but jobs are still not being created fast enough to reduce levels of our unemployment.
While we continue to face a number of challenges, the electricity crisis is currently the main threat to our country’s progress. That is why I said in the State of the Nation Address in February that “our most immediate task is to dramatically reduce the severity of load shedding in the coming months and ultimately end load shedding altogether.”
The work that has been done since then in implementing the Energy Action Plan is showing positive results, giving us greater confidence that we will bring load shedding to an end. While we experienced some of the worst load shedding ever in the first few months of the year, there has been a measurable and steady decline in the severity of load shedding over the last few months.
Although electricity supply is still not stable, as we experienced in the last few weeks, the overall trend is towards less severe load shedding. Damaged units at the Kusile power station have been returned to service ahead of schedule and plant maintenance has received close attention.
What gives us hope for even further improvements is the progress that has been made in bringing new electricity generation online. Regulatory reforms we have initiated have enabled a massive increase in private investment in electricity generation, with over 12 000 MW of confirmed projects in development. Following the introduction of tax incentives and financing mechanisms, the amount of installed rooftop solar has more than doubled to over 4 500 MW in the last year.
Government is working closely with Transnet, industry and other social partners to relieve congestion at our ports and increase the volumes of freight being carried on our key rail corridors.
Several significant infrastructure projects in areas like social housing, road construction, rural bridges and dams are contributing to greater economic activity, and providing much-needed infrastructure for the growth of our economy and the needs of our people.
We have also undertaken far-reaching reforms in other areas to improve the competitiveness of our economy. This includes, for example, proceeding with the digital migration of our broadcasting service to free up broadband spectrum and reduce the cost of data, and introducing visa reforms to attract more skills into our economy.
As we have taken these steps to establish a platform for sustainable growth into the future, we have also been providing important support to South Africans affected by poverty, unemployment and rising prices. We have continued the special SRD Grant that was introduced during COVID, which has kept millions of people out of poverty and continues to provide much-needed support for those who are unemployed.
The Presidential Employment Stimulus has created work and livelihood opportunities for over 1.2 million people since its establishment. This has provided income, work experience and skills for many unemployed people. Over 4 million young people have registered on the SAYouth online platform to access work placement, training and other services. Through this platform more than 1 million young people have been able to access opportunities for learning and employment.
We are also making progress in tackling crime and corruption. The SAPS’ economic infrastructure task teams have made important breakthroughs and arrests for illegal mining, cash-in-transit hikes, cable theft, drug smuggling and similar crimes. We have recruited and trained thousands of new police personnel to further strengthen the fight against crime.
There have been improvements in governance. For example, in her most recent report, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke says “we have seen some encouraging signs of improvement in the ability of national and provincial government to transparently report on their finances and performance and to comply with key legislation”. We are implementing legislation to build a more professional, ethical and capable public service. There has been important progress in other areas, including towards the introduction of a National Health Insurance to ensure greater equity in the provision of health care.
The reality is that although times are still tough, we have made important strides over the past year to fix the problems in our economy and society. In some areas, we’ve seen progress, while in others there is still some way to go.
What is most important is that we have done much of the ground work needed to put our economy on a path of faster growth and job creation. By working together, by staying the course, we have used the last year to lay the basis for a better 2024.
On Friday this week, we will mark a special public holiday to celebrate the historic victory of the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup. Their victory, alongside many other achievements by South Africans on the global stage, is a reminder of our country’s tremendous strengths and the promise that it holds.
Let us come together on Friday to remind ourselves of everything that we love about South Africa. Let it be a day of hope, celebration and unity.
As I conclude my last weekly newsletter for the year, I wish all South Africans a safe, peaceful and restful festive season as we all prepare for a successful new year.
With best regards,