State of the Nation Address preparations under way at Parliament in Cape Town. Picture: Courtney / Africa African News Agency (ANA)
State of the Nation Address preparations under way at Parliament in Cape Town. Picture: Courtney / Africa African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphosa not losing any sleep over EFF's plan to disrupt SONA 2020

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi and Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Feb 13, 2020

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Cape Town - All eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa when he delivers his State of the Nation Address later on Thursday.

Ramaphosa is under fire from opposition parties, civil society and other sectors to fix the ailing state-owned entities (SOEs).

Eskom and SAA are buckling under pressure and need billions of rand to avoid their collapse. The ANC and its alliance partners, Cosatu and SACP, came out in support of SA Airways, saying it needed to be saved.

In a day filled with drama on Wednesday, Parliament and former president Jacob Zuma issued conflicting statements over his attendance or no show.

Parliament was forced to backtrack on its initial statement that Zuma would attend SONA after Zuma’s lawyers and his foundation dismissed the claim.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the president was not losing any sleep over disruption plans by the EFF.

“I can assure you the president is not losing any sleep over the threats of disruption. He fully believes in free political expression. It would be a lot more ideal, though, if such political expression will yield some sort of results. We don’t understand what the disruptions will achieve,” she said.

“The EFF may be better placed, for example, to use the energy that they have to go on the ground to win elections and then set up the government they would want so that is not a concern for the president.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: Elmond Jiyane (GCIS)

Head of policy in the Presidency, Busani Ngcaweni, said although he had not seen the president, he suspected that the disruption was not a concern to him.

“There have been disruptions before. Parliament has a way of dealing with it. I don’t think it is a matter of major concern and Parliament should have a plan around it,” Ngcaweni said.

DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said he did not expect to hear anything new from Ramaphosa.

“This won’t be our president playing with a straight bat to the nation in a time of great crisis. This won’t be the president taking us into his confidence and spelling out the true extent of our challenges and the tough decisions and sacrifices we will need to make,” he said in his alternative SONA in Cape Town.

Steenhuisen maintained: “It will be an hour of downplaying the bad and inventing the good, of cherry-picking stats to show we’ve somehow turned a corner, and of whimsical dreams of a South Africa he knows in his heart he has no hope of achieving.”

He insisted Ramaphosa’s SONA would not reflect the real state of the nation.

Speaking on their expectations, the IFP said it did not want a diagnosis of the problems facing the country.

“We want practical and implementable, actionable steps on all issues. Unemployment, corruption, ensuring that law enforcement agencies are capacitated and job creation are at the centre stage of our expectations,” said the party’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Hlengwa also said Ramaphosa should commit to his oath of office and put the country before his party.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said his party expected Ramaphosa to make announcements regarding economic growth stimulus which would address the unemployment and poverty.

“It is not good enough to make promises. We want to see practical steps taken. We are concerned with the Eskom crisis and crises in other SOEs,” Swart said.

“We would like the president to address the issues that have a direct impact on economic growth. We are concerned about low economic growth and possibly a Moody's downgrade.”

Swart said he expected Ramaphosa to announce and give a report on the fight against gender-based violence, and the high levels of crime and corruption.

Political Bureau

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