Cyril Ramaphosa Source: Google Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reassured the international community at the official start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that South Africa is making headway in its path of renewal and growth.

The forum, which kicked off on Wednesday in Davos Klosters, saw President Ramaphosa assure investors that South Africa, after almost a decade of economic stagnation and political paralysis, has begun to turn things around.

“We have entered a new period of hope and renewal, and over the last year we have taken decisive steps to correct the mistakes of the recent past and put the country back on the path of progress that we embarked upon in 1994.

“We have placed the task of inclusive growth and job creation at the centre of our national agenda,” said President Ramaphosa.

With a third of working age South Africans unemployed, the President said economic growth is at the heart of the country’s plan to shake up the economy.

“We recognise that we cannot create work on any meaningful scale unless we grow the economy at a far greater rate, and for that we need much more investment in the productive sectors of the economy, in infrastructure and skills development,” said the President.

Outlining efforts undertaken to turn the tide, President Ramaphosa cited the country’s ambitious drive to raise $100 billion in new investment over five years.

At the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference in October last year, both local and international companies announced around $20 billion of investments in new projects or to expand existing ones.

According to a report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on Monday, direct foreign investment into South Africa increased by more than 440% between 2017 and 2018, from $1.3 billion to $7.1 billion.

In light of this, President Ramaphosa said South Africa is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to stimulate investment.

To ensure this happens, the President said strides have been taken to ensure greater policy certainty and consistency, including economic reforms in sectors that have great potential for growth.

The President highlighted the finalisation of the Mining Charter, allocation of high-demand radio spectrum, signing of agreements with independent power producers and reform of visa regulations as just some of the measures that will pave the way to significant growth in South Africa.

Turning the focus to public institutions, President Ramaphosa assured the forum that the country has embarked on the restoration of the rule of law and credibility of public institutions.

The President made reference to the Commission of Inquiry into State capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, which has begun to uncover evidence of the ‘capture’ of several State institutions and processes by private interests.

“As difficult and damaging as some of the testimony may be, this is an absolutely essential process that must be seen through to its conclusion if we are to put this shameful episode in our history behind us,” he said.

Land reform

The President told delegates at the forum that the issue of land reform is being addressed within the confines of the Constitution.

“We are dealing with this issue in a manner that takes the interests of all into account, fully in line with the prescripts of the law and our Constitution.

“We are taking a comprehensive approach that sees historical redress as an opportunity for greater agricultural output, improved food security, empowerment, job creation and poverty alleviation,” said the President.