Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined six pivotal priorities for the African National Congress (ANC) in the lead-up to the 2024 elections. During the delivery of the ANC Manifesto at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, Ramaphosa emphasized the party’s commitment to addressing socio-economic challenges by intensifying ongoing initiatives. Tackling issues such as job creation, re-industrialization, investing in people, and addressing the high cost of living topped the agenda.

Ramaphosa, aware of the challenging task of securing a decisive victory in the upcoming elections, pledged to crack down on crime and corruption, aligning with urgent government priorities. He announced a strategic deployment of resources to combat crime, encompassing extortion at construction sites, infrastructure theft, vandalism, and gender-based violence.

While acknowledging the sluggish economic growth, attributed in part to persistent power cuts by Eskom, Ramaphosa stressed the need for greater youth inclusion in the labor market. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana projected a modest 0.6% economic growth in 2023, with a slightly more optimistic outlook of 1.3% this year and 1.6% over the next three years.

Ramaphosa unveiled the ANC’s Jobs Plan, outlining a mass public employment initiative to create and sustain 2.5 million work opportunities over the next five years. The plan includes specific provisions for unemployed graduates. Re-industrialization emerged as the second priority, aiming to build on South Africa’s status as the most industrialized economy on the continent. Support for local economies, labor-intensive industries, and addressing challenges in the logistics sector were key components of this initiative.

Highlighting the crisis in the logistics sector, including challenges faced by Transnet, Ramaphosa affirmed plans to fix constraints in the energy, transport, and logistics sectors. Investments in infrastructure, particularly energy, roads, and railways, were deemed critical for inclusive economic growth and development.

Addressing the high cost of living, Ramaphosa revealed impending state interventions to cushion affected individuals. Initiatives include VAT exemptions on certain food items and expansions of water, electricity, and housing support for those in need. Ramaphosa also announced his intention to sign the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law, emphasizing phased implementation and improved access to health and education as additional priorities for the ANC.

While acknowledging that the costing of the NHI is pending, Godongwana assured parliamentary committees that it will be addressed post the bill’s enactment into law. Both education and health have been identified as major expenditure items in the budget, aligning with the ANC’s focus on enhancing access in these critical sectors.

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