President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address. Here are the key points:
(We will) convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation. The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded. We will expect this summit to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately.
We will organise an Investment Conference in the next three months, targeting both domestic and international investors, to market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country.
To further stimulate manufacturing, we will forge ahead with the localisation programme, through which products like textile, clothing, furniture, rail rolling stock and water meters are designated for local procurement.
We will improve our capacity to support black professionals, deal decisively with companies that resist transformation, use competition policy to open markets up to new black entrants, and invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas.
Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy. Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.
If we are to respond effectively to the needs of youth, it is essential that young people articulate their views and are able to engage with government at the highest level. I will therefore be establishing a Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.
We need to see mining as a sunrise industry. With the revival in commodity prices, we are determined to work with mining companies, unions and communities to grow the sector, attract new investment, create jobs and set the industry on a new path of transformation and sustainability. This year, we will intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.
We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs. Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups. We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses.
We are also working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilities. Among other things, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme.
This year, we will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture ... Guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party, this approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation. We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
We have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people. This year, we will enhance support for destination marketing in key tourism markets and take further measures to reduce regulatory barriers and develop emerging tourism businesses. We call on all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world.
We will soon establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will include the private sector and civil society, to ensure that our country is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in information and communication technology.
We will finalise our engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers.
NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
On the 1st of May this year, we will introduce the first national minimum wage in South Africa. This historic achievement – a realisation of one of the demands of the Freedom Charter – is expected to increase the earnings of more than six million working South Africans and improve the living conditions of households across the country.
To ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy – and to ensure that we are better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances – I will be appointing a Presidential Economic Advisory Council. It will draw on the expertise and capabilities that reside in labour, business, civil society and academia.
ON THE DROUGHT
The country remains gripped by one of the most devastating droughts in a century, which has severely impacted our economy, social services and agricultural production. The drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a national state of disaster. This gives national government the authority to manage and co-ordinate our response nationally with support from all provinces. This will ensure that we also heighten integrated measures to support the provinces that are hardest hit. We are looking at activating the necessary extraordinary measures permitted under the legislation.
Starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000. The Minister of Higher Education and Training will lead the implementation of this policy, while the Minister of Finance will clarify all aspects of the financing of the scheme during his Budget Speech next week.
The Funza Lushaka Bursary programme plans to award 39,500 bursaries for Initial Teacher Education over the next three years.
The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative programme continues to deliver modern facilities to schools in rural and underprivileged urban areas across the country, with at least 187 schools being complete to date. The programme will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year.
We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with the all directions of the Constitutional Court. I want to personally allay fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of this critical service, and will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court. We will finalise work on a permanent public sector-led hybrid model, which will allow a set of public and private sector service providers to offer beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience.
This year, we will take the next critical steps to eliminate HIV from our midst. By scaling up our testing and treating campaign, we will initiate an additional two million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.
We will also need to confront lifestyles diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
In the next three months we will launch a huge cancer campaign similar to the HIV counselling and testing campaign.
The time has now arrived to finally implement universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance. The NHI Bill is now ready to be processed through government and will be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks. Certain NHI projects targeting the most vulnerable people in society will commence in April this year.
During the course of this year, the Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime.
The introduction of a Youth Crime Prevention Strategy will empower and support young people to be self-sufficient and become involved in crime fighting initiatives.
A key focus this year will be the distribution of resources to police station level. This will include personnel and other resources, to restore capacity and experience at the level at which crime is most effectively combated.
In recognising the critical role that NGOs and community-based organisation play in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems, we will convene a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year. Among other things, this Summit should seek to improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face.
Many of our state owned enterprises are experiencing severe financial, operation and governance challenges, which has impacted on the performance of the economy and placed pressure on the fiscus. We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state owned enterprises.
The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning.
Government will take further measures to ensure that all state owned companies fulfil their economic and developmental mandates...
We will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures.
We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.
We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the Auditor-General to strengthen external audit processes.
As we address challenges in specific companies, work will continue on the broad architecture of the state-owned enterprises sector to achieve better coordination, oversight and sustainability.
This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions. The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption.
The commission of inquiry into state capture headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly.
The Commission is critical to ensuring that the extent and nature of state capture is established, that confidence in public institutions is restored and that those responsible for any wrongdoing are identified.
The Commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption.
We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.
We will also take steps to stabilise and strengthen vital institutions like the South African Revenue Service. We must understand that tax morality is dependent on an implicit contract between taxpayers and government that state spending provides value for money and is free from corruption.
At the request of the Minister of Finance, I will shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the Service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets.
During the course of the next few months, I will visit every national department to engage with the senior leadership to ensure that the work of government is effectively aligned.
I will also find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that the state, in its entirety, responds to the pressing needs of our people.