President Cyril Ramphosa said that the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to reset the economy with a bigger focus on doing things locally as well as to review policies that might no longer be “fit for purpose”.
He was answering questions for the first time since lockdown began over 80 days ago by way of a virtual platform beamed from the National Assembly on Thursday.
The government has come under attack from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) for maintaining the lockdown for too long, and at too great a cost to the economy.
But Ramaphosa said that it served its purpose of curbing the spread of the virus, saving thousands of lives and that now it’s time to get the economy growing and to learn to live with COVID-19.
President Ramaphosa said that he was an optimist and not a pessimist and he was upbeat yesterday on prospects for a more inclusive economy rising from the devastation wrought by lockdown.
While the economy’s been brought to its knees, Ramaphosa said that it was not all gloom.
“As much as COVID-19 is a dark cloud that is hanging over the lives and the economy of our country it does have a silver lining – it gives us an opportunity to look at the way we’ve been doing things, our policies and processes, our institutions and see if they are fit to deal with the devastation that COVID-19 is going to bring about.”
Ramaphosa said that the government will continue to manage the pandemic under national disaster regulations for as long as needed. and he says the state will lead any economic recovery:
“Any post-war situation must be state-led – that is where the state needs to set policies, give direction.”