President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: Yeshiel Panchia/ EPA/Pool via AP.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is under pressure to provide detailed plans in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday to fix the country, an ailing economy and struggling state-owned entities.

Opposition parties said on Saturday the honeymoon for Ramaphosa was over and he needs to ignite growth in the economy and create jobs.

The Cabinet held its lekgotla in the week where it discussed the state of the economy, infrastructure upgrade, jobs and investments.

The lekgotla comes after the economy contracted by 3.2% in the first quarter of the year, and ratings agencies warned the government to get things right.

Ramaphosa has set aside R400 billion for infrastructure upgrades.

SOEs have come under fire with two chief executives resigning in a few weeks of one another.

Eskom's Phakamani Hadebe quit a few weeks ago and was followed Vuyani Jarana at SAA.

Economists and investors have warned that Eskom is the biggest risk to the economy with a debt of more than R420 billion. SAA needs R21.7bn to continue operating until 2021, and its board said it would break even in two years time.

The SABC needs a bailout of R6.8bn for it to operate. Statistics South Africa also released figures recently that unemployment had increased from 27.1% in the first quarter to 27.6%.

Ramaphosa has promised to raise $100bn (R1.4 trillion) investments in the next five years.

The ACDP, IFP and UDM said on Saturday this was an opportunity for Ramaphosa to get things right because the country was in a crisis.

Steve Swart of the ACDP said most of the issues that need to come from the Sona are the state of the economy and the high debt levels.

“On Sona, most of the issues relate to the economy and our GDP (gross domestic product) contraction by 3.2% and that is of most concern to us and the fiscal sustainability of our debt,” said Swart.

The debt was approaching 60% of the GDP. Swart said Ramaphosa must deal with the parlous state of SOEs. He said the president must deal with those who are implicated in state capture.

“We want urgent action on those implicated in state capture and the money stolen must be returned,” he said.

The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they want Ramaphosa to ramp up growth in the economy, create jobs and stabilise SOEs.

“As we indicated when the president was elected, that when he does right, we will support him. Sona requires tangible action on job creation and economic growth due to sluggish growth,” said Hlengwa.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said he did not expect anything new from the Sona.

He said Ramaphosa has been saying the same things since he took over last year.

He said the issue of the SOEs was not new and this was caused by the ANC's cadre deployment policy and political interference.

“The issue of SOEs is not new because we deployed cadres, some of whom have no clue. As long as you allow the political head to usurp the powers of CEOs and heads of departments, we will continue to swim in this chaos,” said Holomisa.

He said "every document you read" points to political interference by former leaders of the ANC in the entities.

Sunday Independent