President Ramaphosa says South Africa must fix its public finances

South Africa must fix its strained public finances and procure more renewable energy quickly to address a power crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

Ramaphosa acknowledged in an annual address to parliament that growth had stalled, exacerbating high levels of unemployment and increasing hardship for millions of citizens.

But the speech was short on specifics or timeframes that would have reassured investors that his government had a clear plan to solve the deep-seated structural problems in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

“Low levels of growth mean we are not generating enough revenue to meet our expenses, our debt is heading towards unsustainable levels, and spending is misdirected,” Ramaphosa said.

“We cannot continue along this path. Nor can we afford to stand still.”

Ramaphosa came to power two years ago with pledges to lift growth and improve governance, after a decade of policy missteps and corruption scandals under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

But he has found it hard to revive investor confidence given severe power cuts, repeated bailouts to ailing state firms and infighting in his governing African National Congress party.

Initial euphoria around Ramaphosa’s appointment has given way to frustration in some business circles. Ramaphosa’s critics want him to move more swiftly to address regulatory blockages.

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