South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the country had made progress in addressing socio-economic challenges in the past 25 years while in other areas a lot still needed to be done.
Ramaphosa said this in Johannesburg while speaking at a two-day conference on 25 Years of Democracy in the country.
The conference was organised by the government in collaboration with the academia and civil society.
The conference was assess the gains the country had recorded since independence and to identify lingering challenges as well as the way forward.
He pointed out that when the country secured independence in 1994, it had a substantial fiscal deficit, huge Apartheid debt bill and stagnant growth.
“The substantial investment we have made in economic and social infrastructure, in providing houses, water and electricity, in expanding access to education and health care has undoubtedly improved people’s lives,” said Ramaphosa.
He noted that there had been improvement in education qualifications of citizens, increase in middle class, reduction in poverty and improved access to basic services.
Ramaphosa stated that the government’s immediate task was to grow the economy and reduce poverty and address some of the challenges like corruption.
“Growing an inclusive economy is by far our greatest focus. This progress has been undermined, particularly since the global financial crisis, by stagnant growth, declining investment, maladministration and corruption, among others.
“The structure of the economy has to change to have inclusive growth,’’ he said.
Ramaphosa said there had been a common national identity and called on all stakeholders to join hands for the country’s progress.
“We all have a stake in the stability of our country. Elected representatives should be held to account…and the national interest demands we each do our part…in forging our nation building efforts further,” he added.
Mills Soko, Director of Cape Town University Graduate School of Business, said the government had to take painful decisions and trade off and also take a leaf from China — “with China what was important was unity in government and execution.” (Xinhua/NAN)