President Cyril Ramaphosa used his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday to paint a picture of the country’s progress over the past 30 years and listed the challenges his administration has had to deal with since 2019.
Delivering his address in the absence of EFF MPs, Ramaphosa also used his speech to highlight the successes of the ANC-led government and blamed state capture for some of the challenges his administration had to address.
“Over the last three decades, we have been on a journey, striving together to achieve a new society – a national democratic society.
“We have cast off the tyranny of apartheid and built a democratic state based on the will of the people,” he said.
Ramaphosa also said the government has established strong institutions to protect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all people.
“We have transformed the lives of millions of South Africans, providing the necessities of life and creating opportunities that never existed before.
“We have enabled a diverse economy whose minerals, agricultural products and manufactured goods reach every corner of the world, while creating jobs in South Africa.”
However, he said the country endured times of great difficulty when the strength of constitutional democracy had been severely tested.
He said the effects of state capture continued to be felt across society, from the shortage of freight locomotives to crumbling public services, from the poor performance of our power stations to failed development projects.
Ramaphosa also said his administration has had to confront the effects of climate change.
“Much of the task of this administration was to get our country through these great challenges and to work to regain our way. While each of these events has left its mark, our country has weathered every storm.”
He contrasted the life of a child born during the democratic era to the conditions their parents had lived under.
“Despite the remarkable achievements of the last 30 years, many of democracy’s children still face great challenges,” he said before listing initiatives the government has undertaken to address the youth unemployment challenge.
Ramaphosa also said they had worked over 30 years to ensure that all South Africans have an equal chance to prosper.
“One of the overriding challenges this administration had to deal with when it took office was state capture and corruption.
“Our first priority was to put a decisive stop to state capture, to dismantle the criminal networks within the state and to ensure that perpetrators faced justice.
“We had to do that so that we could restore our institutions and rebuild our economy.”
He, however, said they appointed capable people with integrity to head the law enforcement agencies, government departments, security services and state companies.
He said great progress has been made in bringing those responsible for state capture to justice.
“More than 200 accused persons are being prosecuted. More are under investigation. Stolen funds are being recovered.”
Ramaphosa said there was much more work to be done to eradicate corruption completely.
“Based on the recommendations of the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, we are determined to introduce further measures to strengthen our anti-corruption agencies, protect whistle-blowers, regulate lobbying and prevent the undue influence of public representatives in procurement.
“We will not stop until every person responsible for corruption is held to account. We will not stop until all stolen money has been recovered.”
The president stated that they have worked to revive the economy from a decade of stagnation and protect it from both domestic and global shocks over the past five years.
“We have made progress. Our economy is today three times larger than it was 30 years ago,” he said.
He added that his government has laid a foundation for growth through far-reaching economic reforms, an ambitious investment drive, and an infrastructure programme that is starting to yield results.
“Companies continue to invest, thousands of hectares of farmland are being planted, new factories are being opened and production is being expanded.
“We are on track to resolve the most important constraints on economic growth by stabilising our energy supply and fixing our logistics system.”
The president said the last five years of his administration has been a time of recovery, rebuilding and renewal.
“We have had to revitalise our economy after more than a decade of poor economic performance. We have had to rebuild our public institutions after the era of state capture,” he said.
“We have had to recover from a devastating global pandemic that caused great misery and hardship, that closed businesses and cost jobs. And we have had to confront and overcome a debilitating electricity crisis that, despite significant improvement in recent months, continues to hold back our economy.”