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Cabinet lekgotla to focus on growing the economy

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Esa Alexander

Growing the economy, fixing state-owned enterprises and building a capable state will form a big part of the discussions at a two-day cabinet lekgotla that starts on Wednesday in Pretoria. Outcomes of this meeting will give an indication of what President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) in two weeks time will focus on.

Ramaphosa will on February 13 deliver his Sona which is expected to focus on building a capable state that, among others,  provides that qualified and skilled people are appointed to appropriate positions. A capable state focuses on growing the economy and ensuring that state-owned enterprises are functioning well. 

The cabinet lekgotla will, among others,  discuss Eskom's power generation difficulties and the financial crisis at South African Airways and other SOEs. Energy generation will be discussed in the meeting as the government believes you cannot successfully grow the economy if you do not have a reliable energy supply. In an attempt to lessen the pressure for Eskom to provide electricity, the ANC lekgotla last week approved plans for municipalities to procure their own energy, making way for the independent power producers (IPP) programme.

Minister in the presidency and cabinet spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said this, along with other decisions on building a capable state taken at the ruling party’s lekgotla, would be deliberated on.

“On the 13th the president will also be taking the nation into his confidence on what it is as government we’re going to do this year, what action plans are we going to be putting in place,” Mthembu said. “So, this lekgotla is therefore very important in making preparations for the articulation of the State of the Nation Address.”

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will kick off the meeting with an economic and fiscal overview presentation of plans to implement the “extended economic strategy”. Mboweni's presentation will outline how other countries are performing in comparison to South Africa.

Mthembu said some of suggestions made by Mboweni in his economic strategy paper in August last year “were taken to heart” and would be deliberated on and actioned. “There were suggestions there that were very important, those suggestions there have been taken to heart. So, this lekgotla, taking into account the economic environment in the world, how do we respond to that, that’s what the minister of finance will do as he talks about the fiscal and economic international outlook.”

Mthembu said they were expecting discussions on growing the economy to be discussed thoroughly over the two days of the lekgotla. “This area of deepening economic growth, attracting investment will take us basically two days. We will be focused on what do we need to do, which sectors should we focus on but what must we do with our SOEs.

“You know the difficulties at Eskom, you know the difficulties with many of our SOEs including SAA. What do we do with all of them, to repurpose that they fulfill the mandate they were created for? Because the SOEs are an important engine in ensuring that all of us grow the economy,” he said.

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