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Ramaphosa stands by his Sona

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed confidence in his cabinet but lectured those who questioned the private sector’s role in job creation, even hinting at a socialist economy like China that relies on business to provide employment.

Ramaphosa almost ignored the Democratic Alliance (DA) the call from leader John Steenhuisen to him to dismiss his cabinetonly hinted at it.

“I chair a cabinet of ministers committed to their responsibilities, ministers in whom I have the greatest confidence and in whom the people of this country have the highest expectations,” he said.

Respond to the last day of the debate at his State of the Nation Address (Sona) at Cape Town’s town hall, where parliament sat yesterday, he did not shy away from his claim that the private sector should lead the way in job creation.

He was criticized for the statement of the Left-wing partners of the ANCthe South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), and later the Economic Freedom Fighters (EF

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He said even China has mobilized the private sector to create jobs and be where it is today, the world’s second largest economy.

He gave them a practical example, where the number of people working in SA’s public sector increased from 1.9 million in 2002 to 2.8 million in 2017 and over the same period, the private sector increased from 8.2 million to 13.5 million.

“South Africa is not alone in trying to rapidly expand our production capacity by exploiting the potential of the private sector,” he said.

“For example, you just need to look at the approach that China under Deng Xiaoping has taken to mobilize private capital and promote private enterprise to meet the country’s development needs.

He quoted this week’s article by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala of the University of Johannesburg, who wrote: “In 2018, 87% of urban employment in China came from the private sector, compared to 18% in 1995. [gross domestic product] increased from $734 billion [about R11.1 trillion] in 1995 to $13 trillion in 2018.”

He reiterated his Sona claim that “the state has a clear role to play in job creation” – through state-owned enterprises, public employment programs, industrial policy, competition policy, investment in infrastructure and, indeed, through the deployment of public service itself.

“The reality in our country – as in most other countries – is that the private sector creates the most jobs. [It] employs about three quarters of the workforce in South Africa and accounts for more than two thirds of investment and research and development expenditure.”

READ MORE: ‘Unemployment, state of SA’s economy is giving me sleepless nights’ – Ramaphosa

When asked why those involved in transplantation have not yet been prosecuted, Ramaphosa’s answer was simple.

“Let me be clear again on the issue of prosecution. It is not in the president’s power—nor should it be in the president’s power—to bring criminal proceedings against anyone. That is the sole responsibility of the concerned director of the Public Prosecution Service.

“It is our job as executives to [National Prosecuting Authority] and ensure it has all the resources it needs to prosecute misconduct as an independent authority.”

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