For the first time in 8 years, Jacob Zuma did not deliver the State of the Nation address, instead, newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed parliament and gave South Africa renewed hope.
He commended the people of Cape Town for diligently observing water saving measures during the severe drought, and called on all citizens to save and use water sparingly.
Ramaphosa’s speech has been called insightful, restorative and powerful for the people of the country. He even started a trend “Send Me”. Politicians cheered, smiled and clapped for the president.
Trevor Manuel was also present at SONA, in an interview after the sitting he was asked if he would step into the position of Finance Minister again, his response was, “No Comment”.
Here are 10 important quotes from the President’s address:
1. Our country has entered a period of change. While change can produce uncertainty, even anxiety, it also offers great opportunities for renewal and revitalisation, and for progress. Together we are going to make history.
2. At the request of Finance Minister I will shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the Service and strengthen its capacity.
3. Starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000.
4. We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state owned enterprises. The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning.
5. We make a special call to financial institutions to be our partners in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme as increased investment will be needed in this sector. We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
6. The free trade area will combine markets of 26 countries with a population of nearly 625 million. It will open market access opportunities for SA’s export products, contribute to job creation and the growth of South Africa’s industrial sector.
7. We will soon establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will include the private sector and civil society, to ensure that our country is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in ICT.
8. We must fight corruption, we must fight fraud and collusion as well as in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity as we want to fight it in the public sector.
9. The commission of inquiry into state capture headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly.
10. The time has now arrived to finally implement universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance. The NHI Bill is now ready to be processed through government and will be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks.
Before concluding his speech he delivered powerful words:
I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around
When they triumph over poverty
I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS
I wanna lend a hand
I wanna be there for the alcoholic
I wanna be there for the drug addict
I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse
I wanna lend a hand
– Hugh Masekela