SONA has come and gone, and the most incredible part of the whole thing is that it was all rather drama-free.
Usually, we’re covering flying hard hats and red berets and other theatrics, but nothing of that nature ever materialised.
Sadly, we were still treated to journalists fawning over politicians on the red carpet (I’ve had my say on that front), but we’re going to rumble straight into some of the key announcements from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA address.
Ramaphosa, in his speech, congratulated all the commissions of inquiry in process for their work in rooting out and exposing the corrupt rot that stubbornly rests within the crevices of government.
“The Directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacity from within government and in the private sector under an investigation director reporting to the NDPP (Shamila Batohi),” he revealed.
For the first time, we have heard confirmation from Ramaphosa that the ball will now rest on Advocate Batohi to enact accountability measures against those implicated in corruption.
Given that five of our major international investors recently voiced their disapproval at our country’s rampant corruption, this is long overdue.
Ramaphosa placed the stagnant growth of our economy on its apartheid-influenced design. He admitted that it is regressive to work with an economy whose assets rest in the hands of the few.
The president used the report published by the World Bank, which ranked South Africa 82nd out of 190 countries with high-performing economies.
The goal in the next three years is to ensure that South Africa enters the Top 50 mark, said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa brought the stimulus package that was rolled out in late 2018 as a response to the fall of the economy into a technical recession.
This, Ramaphosa stated was key in realising the critical importance of engaging with avenues that will attract foreign investments.
Eskom and SOEs
Regarding Eskom, we heard for the first time, the president, encouraging a measured increase in tariffs for the embattled power utility.
Ramaphosa charged that Eskom is of critical importance to the stabilisation of the economy. To turn the ship around for the power utility, Ramaphosa conceded to the fact that there will have to be a generous tariff increase for a set number of years.
He also stated that Eskom would receive the help it needs to get back on its feet. Currently, the decision sits with the national energy regulator of South Africa (NERSA) on whether they will accept or shoot down Eskom’s adjusted application for an increase.
Government also plans to “immediately embark” on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings.
Unemployment is one of the key focuses for government, said Ramaphosa. He drew results from last year’s inaugural Presidential Jobs Summit, where the business leaders, civil organisations and the private sector, pledged to equally contributing to creating job opportunities for South Africans.
South Africa currently ranks high when it comes to youth unemployment. Ramaphosa proudly revealed that things are currently moving swiftly in launching the initiative which aims to create 250 000 jobs a year.
Yeah, there you have it.
In short, we were told a lot of what we wanted to hear, in what the Daily Maverick called “an election speech designed to lift SA’s spirits”.
They summed it up as follows:
Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address hit all the right notes: from restructuring Eskom to removing the biggest risk to the economy – the quantum of the bailout was kicked for touch to the Budget – and further steps to clean up institutions like State-owned Enterprises and the intelligence services. It was an election-mode SONA without being crass about it. Opposition parties were left with not much to say except that the proof would be in the pudding.
Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding, because quite a few of the big promises from last year’s speech have not been fulfilled.
Still, it is certainly a step in the right direction to note that we can convene a sitting of Parliament, without things descending into unadulterated chaos.
If you want to read the full transcript of Ramaphosa’s SONA speech, you can do so here.
[imagesource:enca] Occasionally, justice is swift, but for the most part, it’s a slow...
[imagesource:here] In 2015, Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines for endorsing what was then ...
[imagesource:here] Diego Armando Maradona passed away in his home at the age of 60 this...
Check out tourism sites on Hertfordshire, and you'll find that the town is pretty low-key....
[imagesource:here] My first thought related to Matric Rage is hangovers. Days of the...