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State of the Nation Address: Call for clarity on economic, social issues worsened by Covid-19

President Cyril Ramaphosa when he delivered his fifth State of the Nation address last year while strict Covid-19 regulations were still in place. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/POOL

President Cyril Ramaphosa when he delivered his fifth State of the Nation address last year while strict Covid-19 regulations were still in place. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/POOL

Published Feb 9, 2022

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Cape Town - Trade unions and civic society groups want President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide clarity in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on what the government will do about the economic and social issues that have left South Africans reeling in a Covid-19 world.

Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: “Workers expect the president to announce plans for his government to move away from economic policies that are suffocating the economy and that have left half the adult working population unemployed.”

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He said the Zondo Commission into State Capture and Corruption has provided clear recommendations on measures to tackle corruption and that the government needs to act on these, including tabling the necessary legislative amendments in Parliament.

UASA spokesperson Abigail Moyo said the president must use the Sona as an opportunity to restore the trust of the people.

“We expect the president to present decisive actions against the corrupt leaders who ruined our SOEs and resolute plans to restore SOEs to the proud institutions they once were.”

Hangberg Community activist Roscoe Jacobs said the challenges of land and housing remain top of the list.

“We need to see more practical solutions and programmes when it comes to addressing the issues of land and housing that will allow us to see people moving from squalor into more decent housing,” he said. People were tired of rhetoric and wanted to see action, he added.

Ilitha Labantu manager Sikhulule Monakali said people want to see a transformation in how plans to improve people’s lives on the ground are implemented.

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He said over the years, despite the announcement of various plans, implementation has been the weakest link.

“A proper and honest review of the issues that the country is facing is needed and the president will need to go beyond his own circle to really understand what is going on at ground level. We need him to see those issues that we see on the ground every day.”

Equal Education Law Centre director Tshego Phala said they want the president to speak to education issues and to recognise that the education sector has suffered a lot during Covid19.

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“We know that when Covid-19 hit, the education budget was one of the first to have money taken away. So there’s a need for him to talk about infrastructure budgets for education because we are quite concerned about the amount of lost learning time and its impact on education.”

Anzisha Prize, executive director Josh Adler, said the organisation’s research had shown that youth entrepreneurship offers the greatest potential to end the jobs crisis in South Africa.

“It would be a powerful signal to see the 2022 Sona tabling tangible plans to put very young entrepreneurs at the heart of economic growth and education policy.”

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