President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament on Thursday.
The theme this time around was “Let’s grow South Africa together as we celebrate 25 years of freedom”.
Ramaphosa started his speech by reminding everyone in attendance that it’s precisely 106 years since the introduction of the Native Land Act, which deprived most South Africans of the right to own land.
He recalled the words of Sol Plaatje describing that tragic event:
Awakening on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.— Sol Plaatje
On that sombre note, he jumped right in:
Our economy is not growing. Not enough jobs are being created. This is the concern that rises above all others.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa admitted Government’s almost certain failure to reach targets it set in the National Development Plan.
He said his administration will focus on seven priorities:
Economic transformation and job creation
Education, skills and health
Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services
Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
Social cohesion and safe communities
A capable, ethical and developmental state
- A better Africa and World
Ramaphosa promised to deliver on these five promises “within in the next 10 years”:
No person in South Africa will go hungry
Our economy will grow at a much faster rate than our population
Two million more young people will be in employment
Our schools will have better educational outcomes and every 10-year-old will be able to read for meaning
- Violent crime will be halved
If we achieve these five goals, we will have fundamentally transformed our society.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
The President says load shedding is one reason for the economy’s weak performance and that Eskom’s financial position is “a matter of grave concern”.
Ramaphosa announced he would urgently table a Special Appropriation Bill to assign the majority of the R230 billion support that Eskom will require over the next 10 years in the early years.
Other issues he discussed were Government plans around the industrialisation of the economy, mining, tourism, technology and data cost and the allocation of spectrum, infrastructure and climate change.
President Ramaphosa reported on his investment drive, saying that R250 billion of the R300 billion of investments announced last year has entered the implementation phase.
We are committed to prudent borrowing and stringent expenditure management to stabilise our public finances and lower the debt trajectory.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
Rising prices… erode the purchasing power of all South Africans, but especially that of the poor… our Constitution mandates the South African Reserve Bank to protect the value of our currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable growth… Today we reaffirm this constitutional mandate, which the Reserve Bank must pursue independently, without fear, favour or prejudice.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
The President said Government would accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for urban housing and agriculture.
He said that R3.9 billion had been allocated to the Land Bank to support black commercial farmers.
Unemployment in general, and youth unemployment, in particular, was an essential theme of the State of the Nation Address.
Literacy, crime, efforts to fix ailing state-owned companies, strengthening of under-fire institutions of democracy all got more than a mention.
This article is a short summary of the State of the Nation Address. Watch this space - analysis to follow.