Durban - When President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a democratically-elected president on Thursday in Parliament, he will do so against a backdrop of a nation seeking economic relief after the country’s economy contracted by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019.
In his February 2018 State of the Nation address, Ramaphosa concentrated largely on job creation and economic growth and stimulation while he acknowledged that although poverty had declined significantly following the dawn of democracy 25 years ago, there had been some reverses in recent years.
“Poverty levels rose in 2015, unemployment has gone up and inequality has persisted. For several years, our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs so that we can lift our people out of poverty,” Ramaphosa said as he delivered his first SONA, a day after replacing Jacob Zuma as president.
At the time he promised to convene a Jobs Summit within months and it duly sat in October 2018 where Ramaphosa said that up to 275 000 jobs would be created annually with the aim of stimulating and growing the economy to become more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, workers are better equipped and that economic infrastructure is expanded.
Now the hard task for Ramaphosa is to deliver to almost 27.3 percent of the population who are unemployed. South Africans will be yearning to hear of tangible programmes and projects being put in place to ensure that close to 300 000 of them get a job annually.