JOHANNESBURG, 10 FEBRUARY 2022 – President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized in his SONA address to the nation that economic reforms are critical to unlocking economic growth. He stressed that fundamental change and reform are urgently needed to revive economic growth.

Ramaphosa’s speech focused on four overriding priority areas: continuing the fight against the coronavirus; accelerating economic recovery; implementing economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth and addressing corruption and strengthening the states capacity to eradicate this scourge.

SEIFSA welcomes the commitment to finalizing the long-overdue unbundling of Eskom into three separate units: generation, transmission and distribution. We welcome the long-delayed auction of spectrum which will unlock new spectrum for mobile communications. The focus on addressing the crisis of SOE’s in order to ensure that state-owned enterprises are effectively fulfilling their responsibilities and to retain, consolidate or dispose those that are not is again, welcomed and long overdue.

Announcements aimed at reviewing labour market regulations for smaller businesses to enable them to hire more people, while protecting workers rights; eradicating red-tape; easing a number of regulatory inhibiters to growth for SMME’s and fast-tracking payment to those who provide products and services to the state are long overdue.

SEIFSA applauds the President for acknowledging that government does not create jobs. Job creation is a by-product of economic growth, generated by business. SEIFSA is at edam with the President that government’s role is to create conditions that will enable the private sector to grow and hire more people.

SEIFSA welcomes the announcement that infrastructure spend is central to our economic recovery. We are encouraged by the focus on the Steel Master Plan which is ultimately aimed and increasing production, capacity and the creation of jobs in the metals and engineering sector. The focus being on localization, designation, buy-SA without compromising on cost and quality.

We remain concerned that the country’s security structures remain exposed and require urgent strengthening. South Africa simply cannot afford a repeat of what happened in July last year. Our concerns extend to the ongoing acts of theft, vandalism and economic extortion perpetrated by criminals that the state and its security structures must, without delay, stamp out as we work to rebuilding our economic and industrial base.

SEIFSA and the affiliated Associated Membership stands ready to work with all social partners in building, what the President referred to last night, as a Comprehensive Social Compact.

The lifting of the national stage of disaster will assist in this endeavor as we charter the way ahead. Business stands ready to make its contribution in translating promises and policy to action and delivery. We have little time to waste.