On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa released his first letter of 2021 to the nation, detailing the challenges that face the country as a result of the COVID -19  pandemic and the hopes he has for the country in the year ahead.

Ramaphosa says the second wave of the pandemic has put a great strain on the country’s health sector due to rising cases.

“The coronavirus pandemic has gotten worse, with new infections increasing far faster and far higher than before. Hospitals have been under great strain as more people have needed medical attention,” read the letter.

He emphasises the need for a speedy roll-out of the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.

“Getting enough vaccines as quickly as possible and making sure that they reach the people who need them will be one of the biggest tasks of the year. This will be particularly challenging as every country in the world is clamouring to secure the limited supply of vaccines. But we are hard at work with partners in business, labour and civil society to make this happen.”

On the financial front, Ramaphosa says the country needs to be united  in order rebuild the economy. He calls for innovative ways to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

“We will need to work together to rebuild and transform our economy. We have both the ability and the will to stimulate economic activity, grow our economy and create jobs. ”

The President says the pandemic has hugely impacted public finances as the result they are under extreme strain. He says tax revenue has also declined.

“Public finances are under extreme strain, now even more so because of the cost of our health response to COVID-19 and the social and economic relief measures we put in place to assist business and poor households. The contraction  of the economy also meant that tax revenue has declined significantly. There are some parts of the economy that will take longer to recover due to lower global demand generally and restrictions on international travel.”

Below is the the full letter: