Deputy President talks about the economy, energy, mining

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says in order to grow the economy and create jobs, it is important that the private sector invests more in the economy than it currently does.

The Deputy President said this during an interview with the SABC at the public broadcaster’s studios in Cape Town.
During the wide-ranging interview - a traditional post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) interview with the Presidency - Deputy President Ramaphosa said government will do all it can to support big business by eliminating obstacles that made it difficult to do business.

This includes, amongst others, energy constraints and regulation in the form of red tape, which captains of industry have identified as hindering business development.

In his State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma said while the private sector has invested a lot on the country, he would like to see it plough in more.

“What the President was saying was that the public sector is investing massively in the economy of our country and there has been an assertion that the private sector, at some stage, has gone on strike as far as investing further in our economy.

“What he was essentially doing was making a call on the private sector, that we as government are showing enormous confidence in the economy of our country. We would like you to do likewise and invest in the economy because one of the key constraints that withhold us from having economic growth is low investment,” he said.
When delivering the first SONA of the fifth administration, the President said government would aim to grow the economy by a rate of 5% by 2019 in order to create jobs and tackle poverty and inequalities.

However, President Zuma had expressed concern that what stood in the way of desirable growth was, amongst others, a lack of investment by the private sector and energy constraints – which made it difficult for industries to expand.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said this is what needs attention.

“The energy constraints that we face as a country impact on all role players in the economy, and particularly business or the private sector that accounts for 70% of employment in our country. So for as long as energy is constrained, we are not able to build the factories, to do all that we are willing to do,” he said.
He said the lack of skills is also a hindrance to growth.

Building better relations

Government and business also need to sit around one table on a regular basis to eliminate the existing “deficit trust” that exists between the two sectors. Deputy President Ramaphosa said this could be done through the Presidential Business Working Group that President Zuma hosted last year, and through a meeting with captains of industries and CEOs, which took place at Mahlamba Ndlopfu in November and December last year.

After a meeting with the Working Group, six working streams to focus on discussing solutions of dealing with obstacles to doing business were established.

The Deputy President said these meetings need to continue as one could never have enough engagements.
“Relationships between people, organisations and countries are by their very nature fluid. They are not static, they are never written in stone.

“So people need to meet continuously to renew their relationships, to look at agreements that they have arrived at to see whether those are still relevant, given the changing environment in which we live.

“When the President says he wants to have a further meeting, we should not pour cold water on that initiative. We should see it as continued progress because what it means is that people are engaging.”

The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that while the protracted strike in the mining sector has slowed economic growth, it was unfortunate that it has taken so long. He was hopeful that mining houses and labour unions involved in the strike would reach an agreement soon.

He said mineworkers have a right to strike to fight for their plight for a better wage and better living conditions.
He said to this end, the President’s announcement in his speech, regarding improving the social well-being of miners, was very important.

“As time goes on, we hope that their working conditions and their living conditions will improve.
“The President … has put in place government capability and resources to address the plight of mineworkers and the situation in which they live in,” he said. –

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