Opposition parties gear up for #SONA2019 debate
Cape Town - Just days after delivering his first State of the Nation Address of the sixth democratic Parliament, President Cyril Ramaphosa is already feeling the heat.
Ramaphosa has come under pressure from business and labour organisations to intensify his clean-up campaign for government, fix ailing state-owned entities (SOEs) and jump-start the economy.
Similarly, opposition parties are preparing to up the ante during the debate on the address this week - where they will demand more answers on how the president will turn around the economy, address the education crisis and improve the collapsing health-care system.
The opposition has already criticised Ramaphosa for lack of substance and detail in Thursday’s Sona.
During his speech, while the president was describing the kind of country South Africans must imagine and dream about for the future, EFF leader Julius Malema shouted: “Hey, we don’t pay you to dream.”
Meanwhile, financial services research firm Intellidex, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and trade union federation Cosatu have also demanded Ramaphosa come clean on some of the issues - especially fixing SOEs which continue to bleed state funds, and addressing the national jobs crisis and particularly youth unemployment.
Intellidex’s head of capital markets research Peter Attard Montalto said there were positives and negatives in Ramaphosa’s speech, but the big issue was the R230 billion Eskom bailout.
He said creditors and suppliers will be disappointed that Ramaphosa did not mention SAA and the SABC in his speech - as both embattled SOEs also required billions of rand in bailouts.
“SOEs will remain a drag on the economy,” Montalto warned.
Echoing the warnings, Busa said Eskom remained a risk to the economy, and demanded that the government act swiftly in implementing a plan to turn around all SOEs.
“The president’s pronouncements on Eskom are broadly in alignment with businesses’ view on how to deal with the crises engulfing the power utility, particularly the imminent appointment of a chief restructuring officer,” said Busa in a statement.
“However, time frames were not announced by the president and we urge (him) to publicly announce a clear time frame, with milestones, for the implementation of recommendations of his advisory panel.”
Cosatu said while Ramaphosa spoke of billions in investments, it was worried about the jobs crisis.
Cosatu’s parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks said it was concerned about the state of SOEs, with no clear plan to rescue them.
“Cosatu is very worried that the state does not appear to have clear plans to save, stabilise and grow SOEs, in particular Eskom, SAA, SABC, Prasa and Denel.
“The federation applauds the positive reports the president shared on Eskom including the financial injections,” he said.
The debate with opposition parties will be heard on Tuesday.