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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has identified inclusive economic
growth, stepping up fight against corruption and strengthening of state
capacity as some of the five key areas he will tackle in the year ahead.In his State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly,
Ramaphosa promised the nation that improving the conditions of life for South
Africans, especially the poor and improving the education system and developing
the skills needed now and in the future will make up the rest of the five
areas.Amidst threats of disruptions by the EFF, Ramaphosa stroke a
disarming cord when he started by jokingly telling the house that he had spoken
to the red berets leader Julius Malema and they have agreed that if Malema won
the elections he would sing the Thuma Mina song.With the camera catching Malema smiling, Ramaphosa’s tact
won the day as he laid down his plans for the year while recapping some of the
achievements since he took to the office after replacing former president Jacob
Zuma.He told the nation that over the last year, his
administration began rebuilding a durable social compact for fundamental social
and economic transformation with key stakeholders as promised.He pointed out that when he took over law enforcement
agencies had been weakened and their integrity battered making them unable to
do their job. “We have therefore acted to stabilise and restore the
credibility of institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority, the South
African Revenue Service, the State Security Agency and the South African Police
Service.”We have appointed a new National Director of Public
Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi to lead the revival of the NPA and to
strengthen our fight against crime and corruption,” he said.But Ramaphosa emphasized that the major challenge remained
the creation of jobs.”Over the past year, we have focused our efforts on
accelerating inclusive growth, significantly increasing levels of investment
and putting in place measured to create more jobs.”Last year, our economy was confronted by the reality
of a technical recession. Government responded with an economic stimulus and
recovery plan that redirected public funding to areas with the greatest
potential for growth and job creation,” he said.Going forward, Ramaphosa said to stimulate economic growth
and build more businesses and employ more people, new larger markets for goods
and services needed to be found.”It has long been recognised that one of the
constraints that inhibit the growth of our economy is the high level of
economic concentration. The structure of our economy was designed to keep
assets in a few hands.”This has stifled the growth and enterprise and has to
a larger extent kept many young South African entrepreneurs and small enterprises
out of the economy or confine them to margins,” he said.He added that to increase investment and foster inclusive
growth, he will be signing into law the Competition Amendment Bill.Ramaphosa said this will open up new opportunities to enter
various sectors of the economy. The government will also focus greater attention to
expanding exports.”To improve the competitiveness of our exports, we will
complete the studies that have begun on reducing the costs of electricity,
trade, communications, transport and other costs. We will focus on raising the sophistication of our exports.
Through this we will intensify the buy South Africa programme.”


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