Radical economic transformation (RET) will be the mainstay of South Africa’s economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Ramaphosa was speaking during an engagement with KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial government regarding its response to the pandemic.
He said, “We’ve got to begin to put in place the pillars of a new economy. We cannot continue in the same old way. We’re going to identify possibly new sectors [and] rebuild those that have been badly affected by COVID-19.”
The President continued, “We need to come up with a clear economic strategy. The important principle is that it must be an economic future that will ensure that the growth that we have is inclusive and empowering to women, young people and black people in the main.
“Radical economic transformation must underpin the economic future that we need to craft going forward. We should be able to do this through a new compact that we’re going to build, a compact amongst all key role players in our country – labour, business, community-based organisations and government.”
This is the third time Ramaphosa has touted RET as the foundation of the new economy he envisions. The first was during his address to the nation on the government’s R500 billion economic and social relief package in April.
He said at the time, “We will forge a compact for radical economic transformation that advances the economic position of women, youth and persons with disabilities, and that makes our cities, towns, villages and rural areas vibrant centres of economic activity.”
‘RET not a populist narrative’
During his Workers’ Day message on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC) on 1 May, Ramaphosa also emphasised that RET “is not some populist narrative to plunder the economy.”
He added, “The ANC’s 54th national conference was correct to direct us towards a trajectory of radical economic transformation. We are called upon to consider unorthodox ways of reviving our economy.”
In further remarks during his engagement with KwaZulu-Natal’s government, Ramaphosa nevertheless warned that COVID-19 infections could rise as a result of more economic activity under level 4 lockdown.
He said level 5 lockdown had slowed the rate of infection that would otherwise have been “exponential,” giving the government more time to prepare for more cases.
The President explained, “In that regard, we were able to ensure that with social distancing, chances of infections are lessened and that has paved us the way. In a way it was getting us prepared for a spate of infections that are going to continue rising.
“We’re informed that the worst is still coming. We are going to get more people who are infected. But the important thing is that we need to ensure that we lessen the pace at which these infections are going to take place.”