As 2022 draws to a close, we can reflect on a tumultuous year. Like for many people around the world, this has been a tough year for many South Africans.
In the first half of the year, we experienced devastating floods in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West. The Russia-Ukraine conflict sent shockwaves through global energy and food markets, leading to supply chain disruptions and rising prices that continue to be keenly felt, including in South Africa. The energy crisis has caused misery for South African households and businesses.
The events of the last few years continue to cast a long shadow, with the global COVID-19 pandemic severely damaging an already struggling economy and public unrest causing loss of human life and livelihoods.
With this difficult year coming to an end and several challenges still not resolved, we need to keep closely focused on what needs to be done to make next year better.
But we have good reason to believe things are getting better. Our great country will rise above adversity, as it has done so many times in the past.
Two years ago, when we confronted the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19, I said that if we act decisively and together, the pandemic will pass. It has indeed passed, as will the current misfortunes we are experiencing.
We are more than capable of bringing about the recovery our country needs.
The recovery of our economy and society is underway.
Despite the electricity challenges, the economy is recording growth. In the third quarter of this year real GDP grew by 1.6%, and the size of the economy now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Major industries and sources of job creation such as agriculture, transportation, construction and finance recorded increased economic output. Exports increased by 4.2%.
Jobs are being created again. While we haven’t recovered all the jobs lost to the pandemic, around 1.5 million new jobs were created in the last year.
For more than a decade, South Africa has been confronted with a shortage of electricity, with load shedding now a daily reality. Over the last year, we have taken urgent steps to remedy this dire situation by significantly and rapidly increasing the construction of new generating capacity.
This year has seen several corruption-related cases enrolled in our courts and some convictions have been secured. Multi-disciplinary units that bring together a range of law enforcement agencies are identifying more implicated individuals and entities and preparing cases against them.
These are by no means the only difficulties we face. Crime, gender-based violence, poverty and hunger continue to cause great misery.
And yet we should not make light of the change that is taking place in our country. We are seeing the pride of young people who would otherwise be unemployed being restored as they work as education assistants, conservationists and small-scale farmers.