MESSAGE FROM THE ANC TREASURER GENERAL - PAUL MASHATILE
We begin the year 2021 in the dark shadow of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. In particular, our country finds itself in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic that is proving deadlier than the first.
The deepening of the pandemic continues to bring sharply to the fore the fault-lines of massive unemployment, worsening poverty, widening inequality, as well as lack of access to basic services and economic opportunities that have persisted in our country for many decades. It further suggests that our road to economic reconstruction and recovery will be much longer and steeper.
However, despite our many challenges, there is great cause for optimism!
We note with appreciation that without the extensive economic and social relief measures implemented by our government, as well as the bold and decisive interventions to strengthen our public health care response to the pandemic, the situation could have been far worse. The ANC government has acted with steely determination to save lives and to preserve livelihoods.
Going forward, we are encouraged by our government’s commitment to, within our country’s means, continue providing social support to vulnerable households and economic support to businesses and workers in distress. This includes ongoing discussions on the desirability and viability of a basic income grant as one of the measures aimed at expanding the social safety net for the poor.
Also encouraging is that as our country continues to battle the pandemic, we see acts of kindness by many South Africans who have come forward to help the sick, the vulnerable and those in need. South Africans from all walks of life continue to show great courage, solidarity, understanding and resilience in these difficult times.
There is no doubt that in the years to come, when we recall this era, we will say that as a nation, as a people, we stood together – side by side – to overcome hardship; that we were resilient; and that our commitment to one another carried us through and gave us hope that we will overcome.
We will never forget the courage and resilience of our frontline health workers and first respondents who, on a daily basis, are putting their lives in danger in order to save the lives of others. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. They are our true heroes and heroines. They are our inspiration. They are the bearers of hope.
While education was severely disrupted by the pandemic last year, it is a testament to the dedication of our educators, lecturers, administrators, learners, students and parents that much of the academic year was recovered. Once again, as we face uncertainty with regards to the 2021 academic year, we are hopeful that this dedication will carry us through and ensure that our forward march to the skills revolution is unhindered.
We also draw strength and courage from the unity of purpose displayed by many South Africans as our country embarks on the important journey towards economic reconstruction and recovery. We have seen this unity of purpose from the consensus and willingness to work together by social partners at Nedlac to re-ignite our economy.
Last month, government, organized labor and representatives of community constituencies signed the Framework Agreement for the Social Compact on supporting Eskom for Inclusive Economic Growth. This is a significant development. It will help place Eskom firmly on a path to financial and operational viability. It also forms part of efforts to strengthen South Africa’s energy security which is critical for sustained and inclusive growth.
The outcomes of the third South Africa Investment Conference that took place late last year, also give us hope for the future. They are an affirmation that the investor community still views our country as a compelling investment destination.
Also giving us hope are ongoing efforts, led by our government, to secure and distribute a vaccine for COVID-19 as speedily and as equitably as possible. In many ways the vaccine will be a game changer. It will massively benefit the national effort to reignite our economy. This is because the foundation for through-going economic reconstruction and recovery is to continue to control the spread of the pandemic.
On the 1st of January this year, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area came into operation. This is an important milestone in the development of our continent. It heralds a new era of industrialization, infrastructure development, growth, intra Africa trade and investment. It gives us hope that, as predicted by that African intellectual; Pixley ka Isaka Seme, more than a century ago, a brighter day is rising upon Africa.
Indeed, despite all our many challenges, a brighter day will rise in our country. There is great cause for optimism!