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‘South Africa Has, to a Large Extent, Run Out of Money’ – President Ramaphosa

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In his discussion of the country’s efforts to instigate economic recovery following the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that government is essentially bankrupt.

Speaking during a question and answer session with the South African news Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday 9 September, Ramaphosa said that an Economic Recovery Plan is being fast-tracked in the wake of an unprecedented economic contraction in the second quarter of 2020 by 51%.

RAMAPHOSA: RECOVERY PLAN TO BE ANNOUNCED ‘SOONEST’ 

Ramaphosa said that the implementation of a recovery plan is crucial, and said that he has dismissed calls for deadline extensions from role players working to prepare the plan.

“[Regarding the] Economic Recovery Plan, the timeline is soon,” he said. “We are really talking about two to three weeks. We need to finalise this.”

“I have said this to social partners who wanted an extension. We now need to move forward and put the plan to the nation.”

He was frank in his assessment of the country’s economic wellbeing, and said that there is currently very little in the way of fiscal resources to rely on, with fundraising a necessity and contributions from the private sector set to be requested.

“Government has to a large extent run out of money and we are going to have to cobble the money together. Fortunately, some aspects of this recovery plan will be funded through a variety of mechanisms, with the private sector playing a key role. Government will play a key role,” he said. 

“We will all need to put shoulder to wheel and make sure that this recovery plan works.”

RECOVERY PLAN ‘BELONGS TO ALL OF US’ 

Ramaphosa was contrite in his appraisal of South Africa’s frustration with the slow pace of reform and policy implementation to address the financial hardships they are facing, saying that the same applies to frustrations surrounding the prosecution of corrupt officials within the African National Congress (ANC).

“I know that the level of confidence of many people is pretty low because we have delayed in an inordinate manner. But we are facing a new area – implementation after implantation.”

He said that whatever plan is announced in the next few weeks, South `Africans must understand that its success rests on their willingness to unite behind it.

“In the end, it is our plan, and all of us will have a role to play. We are seeking to galvanise the entire nation together. We also need to be able to make everyone realise that it is important that if we want to achieve these ideals that we need to work together.”