Ramaphosa — Springboks show what’s possible when SA unites
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a public holiday on 15 December to celebrate back-to-back world champions, the Springboks. Ramaphosa used the occasion to list the government’s achievements.
South Africans will only get to celebrate the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup victory on 15 December, which President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a public holiday on Monday, while also outlining government successes and economic challenges in recent months.
Speaking during a 30-minute televised address to the nation, Ramaphosa said SA’s 12-11 win over New Zealand in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final at the weekend, and their performance throughout the competition, signalled resilience and determination.
“In celebration of the Springboks’ momentous achievement and the achievements of all our other sportsmen and women – and as a tribute to the resolve of our united nation – I am declaring Friday the 15th of December 2023 as a public holiday.
“We declare this to be a day of hope, a day of celebration and unity.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: RWC 2023: South Africa delivers the pièce de résistance of Rugby World Cup in historic victory over New Zealand
On Tuesday, the Springboks are due to arrive back in South Africa from France. They will embark on a victory tour at major population centres including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and East London.
“This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also lauded the performance of the country’s cricket team, the Proteas, at the ongoing international Cricket World Cup, as well as Banyana Banyana in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and the national squad at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin in June.
“The determination and resilience of our teams have given credence to Madiba’s words that sports unites the nation. In their achievements, they have revealed much about the unity of the people of the country they represent.
“As a people, we have shown before what is possible when we are united, when we are determined, when we try hard and when we refuse to give up,” the President said.
Read Ramaphosa’s full speech: Springboks, Proteas have shown how we can overcome the severe challenges that confront SA
Turning to challenges the country is grappling with, Ramaphosa announced that significant strides had been made in reducing the severity and frequency of rolling blackouts to achieve energy security.
This was made possible by the Energy Action Plan which came into effect in July this year which the President said had resulted in a decline in the severity of power cuts.
“Regulatory reforms we have initiated have enabled a massive increase in private investment in electricity generation, with over 12,000MW of confirmed projects in development.
“Following the introduction of tax incentives and financing mechanisms, the amount of installed rooftop solar has more than doubled to over 4,500MW in the last year. The steady progress we are making in resolving the energy crisis is a reason for hope,” he said.
While Ramaphosa focused on the state’s successes and “reasons for hope”, he acknowledged the country faced “severe” economic challenges.
“Despite the progress we are making, poverty, inequality and unemployment remain high.
“We continue to face domestic and global pressures and our economy is growing too slowly for us to overcome the challenges facing our country,” said the President.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will deliver the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement this week and is expected to announce several spending cuts.
Addressing government debt, Ramaphosa said, “Government spending has exceeded revenue since the 2008 global financial crisis, without a commensurate increase in economic growth.
“As the minister of finance has noted, for every rand that the government collects in revenue, 18 cents go towards servicing our national debt. This means that we are now paying more in interest on our national debt than we are budgeting for the police force.”
Ramaphosa said the government was committed to stabilising its debt levels and adopting a responsible fiscal policy, but added that initiatives such as grants and public employment programmes had reduced poverty and were helping the poor.
He said, “Spending on health, education, policing, and other essential services will be protected as far as possible.” DM