CAPE TOWN, South African President Cyril
Ramaphosa on Thursday described the country's economic outlook as extremely
weak as he vowed to speed up emergency funding for the debtladen Eskom
state power supplier.
Ramaphosa delivered a downbeat economic assessment in his first stateof
thenation address since the ruling ANC party won elections in May.
Our country is confronted by severe challenges. Our economy is not
growing. Not enough jobs are being created. This is the concern that rises
above all others, he said.
Ramaphosa came to power last year and has vowed to revive the economy
after the scandaltainted presidency of Jacob Zuma.
But unemployment remains nearrecord highs and the country's gross
domestic product (GDP) contracted by 3.2 percent in the first three months of
The economic outlook is extremely weak, he said. For growth, we need a
reliable and sustainable supply of electricity.
He warned that Eskom faced serious financial, operational and structural
problems and could currently only meet its financial commitments until
Ramaphosa announced a special parliamentary bill would be introduced to
rapidly allocate a significant portion of the 230 billion rand ($16
billion) needed by Eskom to survive.
Eskom is too vital to our economy to be allowed to fail, he said.
The state utility, which generates 90 percent of the nation's energy, has
debts of $30 billion, and its potential collapse is seen as the biggest
threat to spurring growth in Africa's most developed economy.
'A national crisis'
Eskom imposed a period of rotational power rationing in February, plunging
offices, factories and homes into darkness for long hours and sparking public
anger at the ANC government.
South Africa's unemployment hovers at over 27 percent soaring far
higher among young people.
The fact that the unemployment rate among young South Africans is more
than 50 percent is a national crisis, Ramaphosa said.
More young people are entering the labour force every year The brutal
reality is that when it comes to youth unemployment, we have to run just to
remain in the same place.
The ANC won the May 8 election with 57.5 percent of the vote, its smallest
majority since it led the fight against apartheid rule that was replaced by
multiracial democracy in 1994.
Ramaphosa said he had five major 10year goals: ending hunger, economic
growth outstripping population growth, two million jobs for young people,
every 10yearold being able to read and halving violent crime.
He repeated his pledges to tackle government corruption and said he wanted
South Africa to build a new city from scratch.
Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance opposition party, said
the president talks in high dream language and fails to understand South
Africans are living a nightmare.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)