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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address contained little substance - analysts

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his Sona at the Cape Town City Hall. Picture: South African Government/Facebook

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his Sona at the Cape Town City Hall. Picture: South African Government/Facebook

Published Feb 11, 2022


Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa State of the Nation Address (Sona) for the year 2022 has received mixed reactions, as some analysts have described his address as riddled with “a lot of gimmicks and little substance”.

“When we talk about the state of the nation, it is not an accounting exercise. It is about what South Africans feel. What they are faced with are multiple crises.

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“When you read the July unrest report by the panel, it indicates a crisis and that factional battles have become a threat to the economy,” said political analyst Sipho Seepe last night, shortly after Ramaphosa delivered his Sona, at the Cape Town City Hall.

Ramaphosa laid out plans of reviving the economy, fixing the rail network, fighting crime and corruption, and extending the R350 social relief grant for the unemployed.

He also said he would provide his plan of action on the Zondo Commission’s reports by the end of June this year.

Ramaphosa raised a warning of load shedding and the impact it has on the economy, but says that the government will add more capacity on the ground.

However, he spoke out against the fire that gutted Parliament last month, where the National Assembly and Old Assembly Chamber were affected.

He also said they were aware of the high unemployment in the country, after it reached the highest level of 34.9%, adding that challenges faced by the state were not insurmountable, but required tough action.

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On Covid-19, Ramaphosa indicated that the pandemic has had an effect on the economy and that the extension of the R350 grant he was announcing would require closer attention, as the government was talking about its future.

Civil society and the ANC have spoken about the feasibility of the basic income grant.

The ANC wants a further study on this.

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However, Ramaphosa said he was in consultation with various stakeholders on the future of the grant.

Ramaphosa also said they wanted to build 2 500 new schools to meet the demands.

But there needs to be a new model of dealing with this because, with the current budget, it will take them many years to address this.

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After opposition parties called for action against Eskom, with load shedding crippling businesses, Ramaphosa said they will deal with this issue. He said the country has a shortfall of 4 000MW.

“Load shedding continues to have a huge impact on the lives of all South Africans, disrupting business activities and placing additional strain on families and communities. Due to ageing power stations, poor maintenance, policy missteps, and ruinous effects of state capture, our country has a shortfall of 4 000MW of electricity,” he said.

On state capture, he said: “We will, as the commission’s first report recommends, strengthen the system to protect whistle-blowers, who are a vital safeguard in the fight against corruption and who take huge personal risks in reporting wrongdoing. By no later than June 30, I will present a plan of action in response to the commission’s recommendations.”

But some are not convinced.

Another political analyst Saths Cooper said Ramaphosa’s speech was rather a political speech and that he appeared to be on a campaign trail.

Meanwhile, DA MP Natasha Mazonne said: “Again we have heard about promises and no delivery. We have been told for the last five years that more schools will be built ,and are still not built.”

She said, when coming to the state capture report, no one has been arrested – despite the fact that there is indisputable evidence.

On the economy, Mazzone said: “We almost fell of the fiscal cliff. We don't know how many times we can do that soft landing. The President has no choice. If he doesn't start sitting around the table with stakeholders, it won't work.”

On the State of Disaster, she said this should have ended six months ago.

“We expect that tomorrow morning he should declare that the State of Disaster is lifted,” added Mazzone.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the problem was that government is good at analysis problems in the country, and said the question was now how he (Ramaphosa) is going to come up with workable solutions.

Good party MP Brent Harron said: “We came here wanting to hear about jobs. The President spoke extensively about jobs, but what we wanted to hear are some measurable targets, and whether they have been achieved.”

He said while it was encouraging to hear that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has committed itself to making prosecutions around state capture, the party was weary of the capacity that the NPA has.

He also said the party welcomed the extension of the R350 grant.

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Political Bureau