In a year where the economy took a huge knock as the COVID-19 pandemic halted production, President Cyril Ramaphosa says defeating the health crisis and rebuilding the economy are among the key priorities for the year ahead.
He said this as government also announced that it has secured nine million jabs of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being confirmed for South Africa. The President was delivering the much anticipated State of the Nation Address during a hybrid sitting at the National Assembly on Thursday.
The President said the time ahead was a year of rebirth.
“This is no ordinary year, and this is no ordinary State of the Nation Address. I will therefore focus this evening on the foremost, overriding priorities of 2021.
“First, we must defeat the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Second, we must accelerate our economic recovery.
“Third, we must implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth.
“And finally, we must fight corruption and strengthen the state,” he said.
The President said in the coming weeks, government will address the other important elements of its programme for the year.
He said fundamental to the nation’s recovery is an unrelenting and comprehensive response to overcome the Coronavirus.
“South Africa has just emerged from the second wave of infections since COVID-19 arrived on our shores in March last year. Driven by a new variant of the virus, this second wave was more severe and cost many more lives than the first wave.
“Nevertheless, the human cost could have been far greater.
“Had we not moved quickly to restrict movement and activity, had we not prepared our health facilities, had South Africans not observed the basic health protocols, the devastation caused by this virus could have been far worse.”
The President said this year, the country must pull out all stops to contain and overcome the pandemic.
“This means intensifying our prevention efforts and strengthening our health system.
“It also means that we must undertake a massive vaccination programme to save lives and dramatically and reduce infections across the population,” he said.