President Cyril Ramaphosa raised many important points during last night’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) that left the country talking. Issues covered were ones that have had South Africa abuzz for several months, including:
President Ramaphosa did not shy away from the issue of corruption, as he congratulated the various commissions of inquiry for their work in rooting out corruption and exposing it within government.
Ramaphosa said that the economy should be opened up for all South Africans, and that the country’s stagnant economic growth is a leftover result of its apartheid-influenced setup.
He also stated that the country’s economy is regressive in that its wealth rests in the hands of only a few.
“As part of our efforts to increase investment, and to foster greater inclusion and create more opportunities, I will soon sign into law the Competition Amendment Bill. This will give the competition authorities ability to… open up new opportunities for many South Africans to enter various sectors of the economy and compete on an equal footing,” he said.
The stimulus package that was rolled out late in 2018 after the country was declared to be back in a technical recession was also addressed.
“We introduced a range of measures to ignite economic activity, restore investor confidence, support employment, and address the urgent challenges that affect the lives of vulnerable members of our society,” Ramaphosa said.
ESKOM AND SEOs
Ramaphosa noted that many strides have made to rectify the gross mismanagement and corruption within public entities such as Eskom and the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
“Work on the reconfiguration of the state is at an advanced stage. We are pleased to note that in the spirit of active citizenry, many South Africans continue to show a great interest in the future reconfigured state,” the president said.
According to Ramaphosa, Eskom is critical in the stabilisation of the economy.
“We will lead a process with labour, Eskom and other stakeholders to work out the details of a just transition, and proper, credible and sustainable plans that will address the needs of all those who may be affected. As we address the challenges that face Eskom, we also need to safeguard our national fiscal framework, achieve a positive impact on our sovereign credit rating, and pay attention to the rights and obligations of Eskom’s funders,” he said.
Unemployment is one of the government’s key focuses.
Ramaphosa drew results from last year’s Presidential Jobs Summit, where business leaders, civil organisations and the private sector, pledged to contribute to creating job opportunities for South African residents.
“We have come up with great plans, platforms and initiatives through which we continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through initiatives like the Employment Tax incentive. This incentive will be extended for another ten years,” he said. “We call on all companies, both big and small, to participate in this initiative and thereby contribute not only to building their business but also to building the economy and fostering social cohesion.”