Thursday, 10 February 2022

Cape Town: President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that government plans to scrap the National State of Disaster as the country enters a new phase in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is our intention to end the National State of Disaster as soon as we have finalised other measures under the National Health Act and other legislation to contain the pandemic,” said the President on Thursday.

On 15 March 2020, President Ramaphosa declared the National State of Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act and announced a range of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking during the televised 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA) from the Cape Town City Hall, the First Citizen said nearly all restrictions on economic and social activity have already been lifted, which is largely thanks to the vaccination rollout programme.

Citing the latest data, he said South Africa has administered over 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, while nearly 42% of all adults and 16% of everyone over the age of 50 is fully jabbed.

“This is the real achievement that many countries on our continent have not been able to reach.”

He reminded citizens that vaccines are the best defence against illness, death and COVID-19, which has claimed close to 100 000 lives locally.

“I’ve always said from a personal point of view, had I have not been vaccinated in December when I contracted COVID-19, I probably will not be standing here,” he reflected.

The President took the time to urge South Africans to take the life-saving jab and continue to observe basic health measures and remain vigilant.

“We will be able to get on with our lives, even with the virus in our midst,” he said, adding that the pandemic has exacerbated the divide between those who are employed and those who are jobless.

Solidarity Fund

President Ramaphosa announced that the Solidarity Fund has raised R3.4 billion from more than 300 000 South Africans and companies, while more than 400 individuals and 100 companies volunteered their time and services.

“The fund has played a pivotal role in supporting the national health response and alleviating the humanitarian crisis that confronted our country and our people.”

He thanked everyone who contributed to the fund, including some Members of Parliament and other initiatives to support those affected by the pandemic.

The President also paid tribute to the many healthcare and frontline workers who play a key role in the fight against Coronavirus.

“The nation owes a great debt of gratitude to the dedicated health workers and to other frontline staff who put their own health and lives at risk to care for the ill and the vulnerable during this period,” he said.

President announces multi-billion rand pipelined infrastructure projects

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced pipelined projects that will cut across several sectors like energy and social services worth over R100 billion.

The President said the construction for some of the projects will resume this year.

“The infrastructure fund is at the centre of this effort with a R100 billion allocation from the fiscus.

“The Infrastructure Fund is now working with State entities to prepare pipelined projects with an investment value of approximately R96 billion in student accommodation, student housing, telecommunications, water and sanitation and transport,” he said.

The President said infrastructure is central to the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.

Through innovative funding and improved technical capabilities, government has prioritised infrastructure projects to support economic growth and better livelihoods, especially in energy, roads and water management, the President said.

“Several catalytic projects to the value of R21 billion are expected to start construction this year.

“Of this, R2.6 billion is contributed by government and the balance is financed by the private sector and development finance institutions.

“Government will make an initial investment of R1.8 billion in bulk infrastructure, which will unlock private sector projects to the value of R133 billion.”

He said for millions of South Africans in rural areas, roads and bridges provide access to markets, to employment opportunities, to families and social services.

“Yet many children still have to brave overflowing rivers to reach schools and motorists have to battle impassable roads to reach the next town.

“One person was telling me that they now have to travel to drive on the side of the road because many roads are so bad.

“We are therefore upscaling the WeliSizwe Rural Bridges Programme to deliver 95 bridges a year from the current 14.

“Our South African National Defence Force is the implementing agent of the Welisizwe programme and has demonstrated the expertise of the SANDF engineers in bridge construction.”