30 days from today, South Africa will mark a year since the country recorded the first case of COVID-19 inside our borders. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only forced new social norms on all humanity, but it has also had a devastating impact on the global economy especially on developing economies. Many lives have been lost, with many who were already on the edge of poverty now pushed over.

Unfortunately, in a country and a continent such as ours which was already bedevilled by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, the impact of any pandemic was inevitably going to have devastating consequences.

We commend the leadership provided by our government and the measures it has taken over the past 11 months to curb the spread of Covid-19, save lives and minimize the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. Most importantly, we commend South Africans for demonstrating strength and resilience in these trying times.

On 15 December 2020, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa tabled to the nation the government’s South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. Responding, on 21 October 2020, to the Parliamentary Debate which took place after his Address, the President, among other things, correctly said:

“Our challenge is not only to recover to the pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, but to lift ourselves out of an economic decline that has been several years in the making, while seeking to undo structural distortions that were (also) many decades in the making.

“Unlike many other national economies, we have to recover jobs that were lost as we had to shut down much of the economy, but also to alleviate the plight of millions of people who were already jobless before the pandemic hit.

“That is why we need to build an inclusive economy…

“At this time, durable social compacts are more important than ever.

“It is through consensus-building between government, business, labour and civil society that we have been able to develop a common programme, and the same spirit of collaboration and partnership must guide us in the difficult days ahead…

“Regardless of where we sit across the political divide, we must find the political courage to unite behind this common vision for our recovery.

“We must work together to build this new inclusive economy and to build a South Africa that works.”

It was in this same spirit that the TMF, as part of civil society, also undertook efforts to contribute towards the realisation of the recovery of our country’s economy.

Today the TMF would like to present to the public a discussion document that is a product of engagements with various social partners we began in November 2020.

The document is an assessment of the government’s South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and makes an urgent injunction to all social partners, as called for by the President, to develop and implement an Economic Recovery Plan for the country.

The document can be accessed here: http://www.mbeki.org/wp- content/uploads/2020/01/SOCIAL-COMPACTING-ECONOMIC-RECOVERY.pdf