South Africans are waiting with bated breath to hear what President Cyril Ramaphosa will be announcing the State of the Nation Address (Sona) which will take place on Thursday evening at 7pm.
In his address, the president is expected to speak on the progress that the nation has made since his 2023 address, as well as his plans for the country for 2024.
Keith Naidoo, general manager at Consult by Momentum and Nkosinathi Mahlangu, head of Youth Employment at Momentum Metropolitan give their take on what to expect from Sona 2024.
Expectations from Sona 2024
Ramaphosa is also expected to give an update on the electricity crisis, which according to Naidoo, is costing the economy billions, with small businesses bearing the brunt of it as it directly affects their income.
Naidoo expects an announcement of a new Transnet CEO, as well as a progress report on the overall progress of government initiatives for 2023 and information around implementation plans for the Nationa Health Insurance (NHI).
In terms of jobs for the youth, Mahlangu said that he expects Sona to offer plans to get our youth economically active, including actionable solutions as well as measurable and trackable strategies to turn around youth unemployment.
According to Naidoo and Mahlangu, Ramaphosa should speak to the following issues in his address:
– Government's plans for job creation
– Implementation plans to solve the Eskom electricity crisis
– Stronger stance on corruption within government
– Clarity on the future of the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant and where would it be funded from, if it continues?
– Urban decay, the neglect of infrastructure by municipalities, as well as the water, sanitation and electricity crises
– A way forward on NHI and what funding mechanisms are in place. Will consumer pick up the bill through an increase in already high tax rates and VAT?
– An update on past plans and promises on youth employment initiatives
– The removal of red tape on processes for entrepreneurs.
Impact of Sona on consumer finances
Naidoo hopes that Sona will not have an impact on the finances of consumers, as they are already stretched due to inflation, high interest rates and increases in the cost of living.
Instead, the average taxpayer is looking for relief.
“Government should be wary that a potential increase in personal taxes would impact the consumer negatively and make the already low confidence in government even lower,” Naidoo said.
“People want positive changes to government structures; they want to hear details around plan execution, so that the taxpayer will see how their hard-earned money is being used to uplift the country and its people.”
Entrepreneurship and jobs for the youth
According to Mahlangu, market access for entrepreneurs is essential and government needs to give solutions on how entrepreneurs are supported through the energy crisis that has led to many businesses struggling or shutting down.
In terms of unemployment, government needs to give a dashboard view on critical skills that will link youth to sustainable jobs, while training institutions need to align with what the economy needs in terms of skills.