President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa will overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Delivering the State of the Nation Address to a joint hybrid Sitting of the House in Parliament, on Thursday, Ramaphosa says the government has secured 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to continue the fight against the disease.

“The first batch of 80 000 doses will arrive in the country next week. The success of the vaccination programme will rely on active collaboration between all sectors of society,” he said.

Ramaphosa says engagements are continuing with all coronavirus vaccine manufacturers to acquire sufficient quantities of suitable vaccines for South Africa.

“We have secured nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Further consignments will arrive over the next four weeks. In addition, we have secured 12 million vaccines from the COVAX facility. This will be other vaccines that are available to SA, Pfizer has committed 20 million vaccine doses commencing with deliveries at the end of the first quarter.”

More than 47 000 people have succumbed to the coronavirus. Ramaphosa says the second wave of the virus has been more severe. The new variant of the virus has been identified as the cause of the rise to cases.

President Ramaphosa has urged different stakeholders to play a part in the vaccination programme.

“The success of the vaccination programme will rely on active collaboration between all sectors of society. We are greatly encouraged by the active involvement of business, labour, the health industry and medical schemes in particular, in preparing for this mass vaccination drive.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is delivering the State of the Nation Address: 

Poverty and inequality

According to the President, poverty and inequality are deepening.  South Africa currently has an unemployment rate of 30.8%. “There were 1.7 million fewer people employed in the third quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter before the pandemic struck.”

The government is expecting to see a recovery of jobs that have been lost due to the pandemic.

“As a result of the relief measures that we implemented and the phased reopening of the economy, we expect to see a strong recovery in employment by the end of 2020.”

In an effort to deal with the effect of the pandemic, more than 18 million South Africans have received additional social grants payments.

Those who lost their jobs will be assisted. “To date, more than R57 billion in wage support has been paid to over 4.5 million workers through the Special UIF TERS scheme. More than R1.3 billion has been provided in support mainly for small- and medium-sized businesses.”

Eskom

President Ramaphosa says the government is working to increase energy generation capacity. The power utility has been struggling to provide power. On Wednesday, Eskom implemented stage three load shedding.

“Restoring Eskom to operational and financial health and accelerating its restructuring process is central to this objective. Eskom has been restructured into three separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution.”

Smart City

The Lanseria Smart City, the first new city to be built in a democratic South Africa, is now a reality in the making, the President notes.

“The draft masterplan for this smart city – which will become home to between 350 000 to 500 000 people within the next decade – was completed in November 2020 and is now out for public comment.”