Cape Town – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country can overcome its economic challenges through meaningful partnerships.
He said this when he participated in a debate on The Presidency’s Budget Vote in Parliament, on Wednesday.
The Deputy President said the country will be able to overcome poverty and reduce inequality, create work and opportunities if all sectors of the economy worked together towards a single goal.
“Working together, we will be able to change South Africa for the better.
“Since 1994, we have sought to forge a South Africa that is stable, equal and prosperous from the ruins of racial division, deprivation and underdevelopment,” he said.
He said this after President Jacob Zuma called for deepened partnerships between government, business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), labour and other sectors in realising the country’s development goals.
Addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Deputy President said the story of the past 22 years is that of an extraordinary achievement.
“It is a story of new homes, new schools, newly piped water, new sanitation, new educational opportunities and new social support processes and opportunities for the most vulnerable South Africans.
“It is a story of new factories, new technologies, new roads, new ports, new communications infrastructure and new markets for South African goods and services.
“This story comes with impressive statistics – often counted in millions and hundreds of thousands – that show the transformation that has unfolded in this country since 1994.
“But, ultimately, this is a story of new and re-shaped lives, new hopes, new dreams, new opportunities and new adventures for millions of our people,” he said.
The Deputy President said, however, that despite great social and economic progress, too many South Africans still live in poverty.
He said although government has massively expanded access to basic needs, many people still need jobs, quality education, houses, water and electricity.
This story is being written by millions of ordinary South Africans who are working together, with government and with many social partners, to better their own lives, the Deputy President said.
“In doing so, they are giving meaning to the fundamental declaration that the people shall govern!
“As the father of our nation Nelson Mandela said, our people must be the agents of their own liberation.
“This they do more effectively when they work with government and other social partners,” he said.
He said that it is the responsibility of the Presidency, through its position at the apex of government, to see that all South Africans have the means to achieve their potential.
“It is the responsibility of the Presidency – through the institutions of the state, working with social partners, and in concert with the people – to ensure that South Africa continues to move forward.”
National Minimum Wage to give low-paid workers dignity
The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that government was encouraged by the seriousness with which its social partners have responded to this call to tackle domestic constraints that impede economic growth.
He said the overriding concern of all social partners is the creation of jobs and the growth of the economy.
“This has been a central consideration in the deliberations in Nedlac on the introduction of a national minimum wage.
“We are confident that we will soon be able to agree on a level at which the minimum wage should be set that will both improve the lives of the lowest paid workers in South Africa and support our job creation efforts.
“Introducing a national minimum wage is a step towards restoring the dignity of workers of this country,” he said.