SONA 2020: What needs to be said by the president to save credibility
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Cape Town - Political science and leadership experts are all agreed that if President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) today is to be seen as a hit, it must tackle the issue of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), especially Eskom and SAA, head-on.
Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership’s Zwelinzima Ndlovu said: “We need to hear a coherent government is working to deal with Eskom, and SOEs in general. The president must tell us what concrete steps will be taken against dysfunctional departments, because right now it’s beginning to look as though we changed presidents but retained a dysfunctional government.
“The speech will also be a failure if he doesn’t show leadership on the drought in the Free State.”
A postdoctoral fellow at UWC’s Department of Political Studies, Shingai Mutizwa-Mangiza, said: “The president must come out clearly on the SAA business rescue. Before he left for Addis, he sounded unhappy with the cancellations strategy the airline was taking, but he has to give clarity.
“Is the airline to be privatised, is it going to invite an equity partner, or will it adopt the Ethiopian Airlines model where it’s government-owned but run like a private business?
“If he doesn’t pronounce on issues of unemployment, he will have failed. The honeymoon is over and people want to hear about concrete measures being taken.”
UCT Graduate School of Business development economist Mundia Kabinga, said: “The president needs to give clarity on utilities and SOE reform. For instance, there was recently talk of the setting up of another utility SOE, but there has been no more talk about whether the unbundling of Eskom is still happening.
“We all know there are factions in Luthuli House pulling this way and that, but the president needs to make a stand one way or the other.”
The chief executive of the National Employers’ Association of SA,
Gerhard Papenfus, said: “Mr President, at the Sona you have yet another opportunity to share your vision for South Africa. Should it indeed be your intention to preside over our continued decline, through expropriation of property without compensation, the complete destruction of our health services and the capture of pension funds, then say so unequivocally.
“Let South African business know, let foreign investors know and don’t let Moody’s guess. If, however, you too believe that these policies will cause the demise of our country, then say so in similar, unequivocal terms.
“Put your political life on the line. If it leads to your temporary political downfall, so be it; at least then, you will be recognised as a leader, and millions will rush to support you.”