Ramaphosa’s Sona promises... how has the president performed on his promises?

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Picture: Jikelo/African News Agency/Independent Newspapers

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Picture: Jikelo/African News Agency/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 8, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa has made broad promises since he took office in 2018. How has he performed on the promises to date?

With Ramaphosa expected to deliver his seventh State of the Nation Address on Thursday in the midst of promises made over the last six years, IOL News looks at the progress he has made since he swept into power under the slogan of Thuma Mina (Send Me).

Ramaphosa promised a new dawn, promising to be the new broom that sweeps clean, promising to address major constraints in the economy, unlock job opportunities and clean up the state of crime and corruption.

Transparency International released its latest report last week where South Africa slid further down in the corruption perception index. South Africa scored 41 out of 100 in the perception index and was falling in a group of countries described as “flawed democracies,”

When he assumed office Ramaphosa promised to fight crime, corruption and gender-based violent.

But there has been a spike in violent crime with 27,000 people murdered last year. This was an increase from 25,000 people who were killed in the previous year.

The Sona is delivered in a climate where the economy is not growing, load shedding continues to persist and investors have not thrown a lot of money into the country.

Government has implemented cost-cutting measures to plug the hole in the fiscus with the deficit said to have widened to 6%.

We reflect on the promises he made since 2018 to what has been delivered to date.

Promises in 2018

– In his first Sona in February 2018, the president highlighted that there were now 17 million people on social grants. He promised to draw young people into productive economic activity.

– Ramaphosa also announced that the National Health Insurance Bill would be tabled in Parliament for processing.

– Ramaphosa also said they will intervene, stabilise and revitalise Eskom and other State-Owned Entities.

Progress on 2018 promises

– As of January 2024, there were 18 million people on social grants and another eight million receiving the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant, which was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Public Protector recently warned that South Africa was fast becoming a welfare state.

– The NHI Bill was passed Parliament and sent to Ramaphosa to be signed into law. He is still applying his mind on the bill following submissions made to him not to sign it into law.

The SOEs are in a far worse financial position than they were six years,ago and have required billions in bailouts from National Treasury.

Promises in

– Ramaphosa said in his Sona that since load shedding started early that year, Eskom implemented a Nine-Point Plan for the maintenance of power stations. Eskom was deploying skilled personnel where they were needed. He also announced that they were going to table a Special Appropriation Bill of R230 billion to support Eskom because of its poor financial position.

– Ramaphosa promised that they will double tourists to 21 million by 2030.

– Ramaphosa also said the Minister of Communications was going to start with the process of spectrum licensing.

– Ramaphosa described the fact that unemployment among young people was 50% was a national crisis. He said his government was going to create two million jobs for young people within 10 years.

– In a bid to crack down on crime they were going to hire more police officers. They were working on the reconfiguration of the state to make departments deliver services.

– Ramaphosa also said they would prioritise revitalising the rail network and producing speed trains to connect major cities and industries. He also spoke about building smart cities for the first time.

Progress on 2019 promises

– Load shedding has worsened with Eskom implementing load shedding almost everyday for the past two years. In 2023, South Africa experienced load shedding for 332 days, which accounts for 90% of the year. In 2022, there were 204 days of load shedding in 2022, meaning the past two years were the worst since load shedding began in 2008.

– Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said stage 6 of load shedding costs the economy R1 billion a day.

– Ramokgopa said 800,000 jobs were lost last year because of load shedding and this was due to businesses closing down.

Promises in 2020

– Ramaphosa said SOEs were now in distress.

– He said the priority of government was to fix the commuter rail, which transports one million people daily. They were modernising Prasa’s rail network. They were also also upgrading stations, parkway replacements, new signalling systems and overhead electrical traction systems.

– Ramaphosa said the ports were congested and inefficient. Government wanted to overhaul the Durban port to reduce delays and costs in 2020.

– The president announced that they were establishing a Crime Detective University in Hammanskraal.

– He said a new smart city was taking shape in Lanseria and was going to accommodate between 350,000 and 500,000 people.

Progress on 2020 promises

– The SOE’s financial positions continue to be perilous. However, the rail and port crises have also worsened. The volumes on the rail network decreased from 226 million tons in 2019 to 149m tons last year.

The situation reached critical points last year when the congestion on the ports of Durban and Richards Bay led to dozens of ships spending weeks at sea before they could offload goods, costing the SA economy a staggering R120m daily. Hundreds of trucks stretched for more than 40km outside the port of Richards Bay waiting to offload goods. Ramaphosa even visited the two ports.

– On the Crime Detective University in Hammanskraal, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said in January this year Minister of Police Bheki Cele has made a request to Ramaphosa and work would begin soon. This is four years since the announcement was made.

– Since Ramaphosa’s announcement that a smart city will be built in Lanseria nothing has been developed.

Promises in

– Ramaphosa said the unemployment rate stood at 30.8% and this called for action.

– He said Eskom was improving its plant performance and reliability of coal-fired power stations.

– The president said task teams have been established to deal with cable theft, railway infrastructure vandalism, and the construction mafia.

Progress on 2021 promises

– The unemployment rate was sitting at 31.9% with 7.8m unemployed people, most of them young people.

– The plant performance is worsening with the energy availability factor at 57% against the target of 70%.

– There were 18 task teams that have been established to crack down on the construction mafia, damage to infrastructure and cable theft. Cele said they have arrested a number of people linked to the construction mafia.

Promises in 2022

– Ramaphosa announced that Eskom has been split into generation, distribution and transmission. The process of the unbundling of Eskom was set to be completed by December 2022.

– He said Cabinet approved the Electricity Regulation Act for public comment. He said the reforms at Eskom will allow a competitive market for generation and transmission. and the establishment of the National Transmission Company of South Africa.

– He said the economy cannot grow without efficient railways and ports.

– He said the functioning of the ports has declined. Transnet was fixing delays and congestion at the ports by procuring additional equipment and implementing new systems to reduce congestion., said Ramaphosa,.

– He announced that government will hire 12,000 new police officers to fight crime.

Progress on 2022 promises

– The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) awarded remaining licences for the National Transmission Company of South Africa late last year. This is part of the unbundling of Eskom following the announcement by Ramaphosa. Eskom said the Transmission Company was the first company to achieve legal separation. Eskom also announced the appointment of the Transmission Board, chaired by Priscillah Mabelane.

– Parliament is busy processing the Electricity Regulation Amendment Act.

– The port and rail crises have not been resolved. Economists have estimated the crises at Transnet costs the economy more than R300 billion a year.

– Transnet also reported a financial loss of R5.7bn for the 2022/23 financial year. This was after it made a profit of R5bn in the previous financial year. Transnet attributed its loss to the poor performance of its rail division. The decline in rail volumes had a huge impact on the balance sheet of Transnet.

– Government has recruited 10,000 new police officers last year, from its target of 12,000. Another group of 10,000 officers will begin training this year. This will increase the number of SAPS members on the ground to fight crime. But SAPS is facing a shortage of 8,000 detectives and some of the new recruits will go into various divisions.

Promises in

– Ramaphosa said National Treasury was finalising a solution to Eskom’s R400 billion debt burden.

– The president said they were investing in new transmission lines and substations in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. He said the work to reconfigure the state will continue.

– He said task teams to crack down on economic sabotage, construction mafia and damage to railway infrastructure were deployed in 20 hotspots.

– Ramaphosa said in November 2022 they held a Presidential summit on Gender-Based Violence (GBV). He also signed into law three GBV laws following an outcry over the increase in the murder of women and children.

Progress on

– As part of solving the R400bn debt burden of Eskom, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana announced in the Budget last year Eskom was being given a bailout of R254bn.

– On the transmission lines issue Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said they will need R390bn to expand transmission lines in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. The investment is to cover 14,000km of transmission lines in the next 10 years.

– The Eskom balance sheet will not be able to cover this cost and Ramokgopa said they were inviting the private sector to invest in the project.

– Violent crime is on the increase. While there were 25,181 people killed during the 2021/22 financial year, this number increased to 27,494 murders in the 2022/23 period. This is an increase of 9%.

There were 41,739 women who were raped in 2021/22 and this increased to 42,780 rape cases reported in the 2022/23 period.

– Since the government held its GBV summit in November 2022 more women and children have been killed. According to SAPS annual crime statistics, 3,771 women were killed during the 2021/22 financial year. This increased to 4,169 in the following financial year. This is an increase of 10.6%, said the police.

The number of children killed also went up. While there were 1,273 children killed during the 2021/22 financial year, this number increased to 1,994 in the 2022/23 financial year.

[email protected]

IOL Politics