President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening said the Covid-19 relief grants would continue and fees for small businesses would be removed.
Ramaphosa made his remarks at the launch of the African National Congress (ANC) manifesto in the City of Tshwane for the 1 November local government elections.
He said clean water, reliable and affordable electricity, land, housing, personal safety, and jobs for young people were some of the concerns and desires raised by potential voters canvassed by the ANC.
“We have not always done the best that we were meant to do,” said the ANC president.
“We have made mistakes. We have not always put the best people in positions of responsibility.
“Too often, we have been slow to act when our public representatives and leaders committed wrongdoing when they abused their position or failed in implementing the mandate that you gave them.
Ramaphosa said the ANC “pledge to you – the people of South Africa – is that we will do better”
He also touched on the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in nearly 90 000 deaths and the loss of about two million jobs.
“As we ask for your vote today, we are mindful of the difficult times we face as families, communities and as a nation,” said Ramaphosa.
“All of us have lost friends, colleagues and, in some cases, family members to Covid-19.
He said nearly two million South Africans have lost their jobs, many businesses have closed and many people face financial hardship.
“Through a massive social and economic relief package, we have provided much-needed support to businesses, workers and poor households affected by the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
“In the midst of all these challenges, and building on the relief provided by the national government, people want local government to deliver the services they need and support the local businesses that provide jobs and livelihoods.
Earlier Ramaphosa had engaged in some small talk about having mastered the wearing of a mask.
At the beginning of his speech Ramaphosa said: “On behalf of the leadership of the ANC, I wish to recognise the presence of former ANC President Thabo Mbeki and former ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
“I also want to send greetings to former President Jacob Zuma and wish him a speedy recovery.”
Ramaphosa also acknowledged the ANC’s Alliance Partners – the SA Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions before giving an overview that ranged from tackling the Covid-19 pandemic to fixing leaks and burst sewage pipes.
He said corruption was being thoroughly investigated, stolen funds recovered, and returned to the fiscus.
Those who are alleged to be involved in these crimes are being arrested and prosecuted.
Ramaphosa said after years of impunity, the ANC as the governing party was leading a new era of accountability and consequences for wrongdoing.
“Under new leadership, state-owned enterprises have been tackling corruption, have recovered billions of rands of stolen money, and are now clearly focused on delivering on their respective mandates.”
“They want protection against crime and gangsters who extort money from infrastructure projects and companies.”
He said local businesses want protection from unfair competition from unregistered businesses and they do not want to pay expensive license fees which eat into the little profit they make.
“The South African people want water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal,” said Ramaphosa.
“They want faulty substations, burst pipes and overflowing drains fixed on time.
“They want tarred roads and pavements and potholes filled to avoid accidents and burst tyres.
“They want illegal dumps removed and parks with safe facilities where their children can play.”
“As the African National Congress, we are well aware that many people here in Tshwane and elsewhere in the country decided not to vote for us in the 2016 local elections,” lamented Ramaphosa
“We understand that you were disappointed with the ANC, discouraged by our shortcomings and angry about
allegations of state capture and corruption.
“As a result, a number of cities and towns, including Tshwane, have been governed by other parties for the past five years.
“This has caused great hardship for the residents of Tshwane. People living in Atteridgeville, Laudium and Hammanskraal, for example, have faced long periods without water.”
Ramaphosa said in the face of hardship, people have been calling for strong leaders who put the people and their needs first; leaders who are not corrupt and who will not divert money meant for service delivery.
“People want councillors they know and trust, who will be responsive to community concerns and available when problems arise,” said Ramaphosa.
“And people want a united, renewed and revitalised African National Congress. They want the ANC to correct its mistakes and, once again, to selflessly serve all the people of South Africa.
“We are gathered here in Tshwane – and in many places across the country – to answer that call.”
Presenting the manifesto, Ramaphosa said the ANC “pledge to you – the people of South Africa – that we will do better”