President Cyril Ramaphosa has stressed the importance of beginning South Africa’s long journey towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his weekly letter to the nation, Ramaphosa said that the economic damage of the pandemic has been severe, with the most recent indicators showing a drastic decline in economic activity and in investor confidence.
“Despite the support measures we have put in place, businesses are being forced to close and jobs are being lost,” Ramaphosa said.
“The path to recovery will be long and difficult. And so, it needs to start now.”
He said it is untenable and unacceptable to live with an unemployment rate of 30%, which will soon increase as the effects of the pandemic trickle down to workers across the country.
“It is also impossible to build an economy built on inequality,” he said.
Many of the government’s plans for economic recovery include fundamental-focused solutions such as the provision of reliability energy, efficient transport, and access to high-demand broadband spectrum for mobile networks.
The government will finalise an economic recovery programme in the coming weeks that encompasses the best aspects of the various proposals under consideration, Ramaphosa said.
“Since the onset of the pandemic in South Africa, our strategy has been to provide whatever support we can, within our constrained resources, to protect businesses and preserve jobs,” he said.
“Now we must move quickly towards a robust programme of reconstruction and recovery – and we must do so together.”
COVID-19 cases climbing
Confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to increase across the country, with the worst-affected provinces including the Western Cape, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on 26 July that there are now a total of 445,433 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.
This is an increase of 11,233 cases from the 434,200 infections reported on Saturday.
114 more COVID-19-related deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 6,769.
Mkhize said that 265,077 recoveries have been recorded to date, and a total of 2.77 million tests have been conducted across the country.