Cyril Ramaphosa has set out four priorities for the government in 2021, including Covid-19 response, economic recovery, and restoring credibility to the party.
He added that the government will be considering a basic income grant, and will strengthen energy production efforts.
The ANC’s president was addressing the nation during the party’s 109th birthday celebration – a far more understated event than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a virtual address, Ramaphosa talked tough on corruption and said the party was working to restore its integrity and that of law enforcement.
He conceded there is still “much to be done”, and that the ANC has been “weakened by corruption… and by its leaders. There is a danger that internal conflicts can consume us and detract from the work we need to do.”
He said priority one was Covid-19: “It threatens our economy. SA is in the midst of a second wave that could prove deadlier than the first. We have to intensify our efforts to promote responsible behaviour such as physical distancing, sanitation, wearing masks.”
He added the government will continue bolstering healthcare efforts, including test screening. He says the government will embark on a mass vaccination programme. This programme will, initially, prioritise frontline workers, like healthcare workers, teachers, police officers, the elderly and those with comorbidities.
Ramaphosa allso slammed purveyors of “unfounded conspiracy theories” circulating about the virus and vaccines. “We must continue to work together as a united nation to confront the coronavirus threat.”
Priority two is economic recovery, saying there is an imperative to create jobs.
“We are undertaking large-scale public investment in key sectors like energy, human settlements, health, roads and infrastructure… we are promoting investment in mining, tourism… [and uplifting] township entrepreneurs.”
Basic income grant
He says the process of public employment programmes has begun, which will target “marginalised groups in society”.
Ramaphosa also announced: “This year, the government and broader society will need to continue discussion on the viability of a basic income grant.”
Next up was restoring the credibility of the ANC, warning that the idea of party unity “cannot be used to protect those who are [implicated in crimes].”
He said law enforcement will act “without fear or favour”, adding that members who fail to account themselves to the ANC’s integrity commission, will be suspended.
Ramaphosa also said the ANC would work toward building a continent, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has battered international trade, and economies worldwide have suffered. He added, however, that it has also been a time of unprecedented collaboration and teamwork, especially among African countries.
“We must continue to deepen the ties of collaboration. The ongoing conflicts in [parts of the continent] remain a concern. The support that we need to have is to advance the governance across our continent.”
Ramaphosa, meanwhile, paid tribute to those who have lost their lives to Covid-19. “The ANC, too, has lost many veterans over the past year. It is up to us as the ANC of today to ensure that the ideals that inspired the lives [of the stalwarts] continues to guide our actions.
“We should draw on our rich history of struggle and solidarity.”
Ramaphosa said: “The trust that our people have invested in us should never be taken for granted. We must renew and rebuild our movement and ensure it remains true to its founding principles, including integrity, honesty, respect and, above all, service to our people.”
He says there is still “much to be done.” The organisation has been weakened by corruption… and by its leaders. There is a danger that internal conflicts can consume us and detract from the work we need to do.”
In closing he said the theme for 2021 is unity, renewal and reconstruction and the year of struggle icon Charlotte Maxeke, who would have celebrated her 150th year.
– Kerushun Pillay