ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is open for investment and that, among its other economic goals, the ANC will preoccupy itself with ensuring policy stability to attract more financing.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the Absa Stadium in East London, where he delivered the ANC national executive committee (NEC) January 8 speech – an address delivered every year to mark the anniversary of the ANC’s formation.
The party remains committed to its quest for radical socio-economic transformation, which forms an important basis of its campaigning ahead of the 2019 national elections.
Ramaphosa has set an ambitious 3% GDP growth target for 2018, which he hoped would see the creation of 1-million new jobs for unemployed youth.
“We are going to take all efforts to ensure that we create jobs for young people in our country. Already this year we are going to be finalising all arrangements to create up to 1-million job opportunities for the young people of our country that will be implemented on 3-year cycle,” he said.
The promise of creating 1-million new job opportunities for the youth is not a new one and was first pledged by state president Jacob Zuma when he came into office as ANC president.
Zuma, however did not manage to deliver on that promise. The country currently sits with a youth unemployment rate of more than 38%.
Delivering his maiden anniversary celebration address, Ramaphosa appeared optimistic about the possibility of delivering on the promise. He expressed optimism about South Africa’s ability to pull itself out of a technical recession, and said more needed to be done to attract investment into the country.
“South Africa is open for investment and we invite all investors from all over the world to come to South Africa to invest in our country so that we can grow our economy, create jobs, end poverty,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must have an economy that offers policy certainty and addresses areas that inhibit investment, growth as well as social inclusion”.
Ramaphosa also reiterated the ANC’s adoption of a resolution to expropriate land without compensation. Though the decision has drawn some fears about the impact the policy could have in the economy, it is unlikely that the party will adopt a heavily radical stance.
In his speech, Ramaphosa emphasised that the perusal of expropriation without compensation would not be done at the expense of food security.
“We will do so in a manner that not only meets the constitutional requirement of redress, but also promotes economic development, agricultural production and food security,” he said.
The inclusion of the constant reminder that expropriation will not interfere with production and food security is seen as an indication that the party is likely to tread carefully in implementing its new policy.
Despite questions about how it will be implemented or afforded, Ramaphosa also reaffirmed the decision to introduce free higher education for students from families with a joint household income of less than R350 000.
The shock decision to introduce free higher education was made by Zuma on the first day of the ANC’s 54th national conference, a move that appeared to have taken other leaders by surprise.
The policy decision has however been upheld by the NEC, but would be introduced on a gradual basis.
“The project will be implemented on a gradual basis as we find money, we will mobilise resources and as we accumulate more and more money, we are going to realise a historical perspective,” Ramaphosa said.