Ramaphosa says about 700,000 jobs created during Covid-19

That was as the Covid-19 pandemic battered the SA economy, which contracted 7% in 2020 and led to a loss of about 1.4-million jobs

President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed the positive effects of the Covid-19 stimulus package.
President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed the positive effects of the Covid-19 stimulus package.
Image: Supplied

The R500bn social and economic package the government introduced in April last year to cushion the country against the effects of Covid-19 has been “hugely beneficial” as it drew nearly three-quarters of a million people into jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday.

In his keynote address at Cosatu’s four-day central executive committee meeting ending on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the stimulus package had been able to “draw up to 700,000 into job opportunities during this period of the pandemic”.

That was as the coronavirus pandemic battered the SA economy, which contracted 7% last year and led to a loss of about 1.4m jobs, contributing to a 34.4% unemployment rate – the highest in the world.

Ramaphosa said defeating the pandemic remained a priority and called on Cosatu to "convince", mobilise and persuade workers and as many people as possible to be vaccinated. Cosatu, however, is against mandatory vaccines at workplaces.

The president said the government respected the right to bodily integrity and all other constitutional rights. "However, this must be balanced against the right to a safe working environment and it is correct to take measures to ensure the economy can reopen in a safe manner that protects all workers."

To transform the economy to be more inclusive, Ramaphosa said his administration was taking steps to cut bureaucratic red tape to ensure small traders were not subjected to undue regulatory requirements. “This will unleash the economic energy of our people when all these measures are done away with,” he said.

“Infrastructure development is the backbone of economic progress, it’s the flywheel that will enable our economy to grow. We must expand infrastructure development to meet the demands of the economy in mining, water and sanitation, [building of] roads and bridges, health and education, and public transport.”

Cosatu's involvement in these initiatives would be crucial as “the voice of workers must inform our strategies to put our country on a higher growth strategy”.

Cosatu is a key ally of the ANC and has supported the governing party in all elections since the dawn of democracy. The better life for all, which the ANC has promised in previous elections, depended on improving the state to be “efficient, developmental, rid of corruption, malfeasance and wastage that continues to dog our state”, Ramaphosa said.

The government was working to professionalise the public service, he said, adding that a range of measures would be implemented to instil a culture of service across all spheres of the government, especially at local government level as it was at the coal face of service delivery.

Ramaphosa said the upcoming municipal election on November 1 should been seen as a watershed moment for SA’s democracy as candidates who would be elected would be required to lead “clean, efficient and service delivery-focused structures that are committed to servicing the people”.

He expected those that would be elected to be leaders of unquestionable integrity, who were capable and qualified to serve the people and improve service delivery.

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