PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa is under pressure from opposition parties and civil society to clamp down on corruption in his State of the Nation Address.
Parties and civil society yesterday said that despite other failings of the government, a crackdown on corruption must top Ramaphosa’s agenda in his address today.
They did not mince their words, saying that not only must officials be arrested, but top politicians implicated in the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and other corruption must be arrested and axed from the Cabinet.
The DA, National Freedom Party, Cope and African Christian Democratic Party also warned of a weak economy and said Ramaphosa must come up with a plan to rescue the country.
Ramaphosa is expected to deliver a blueprint for the country, and to announce the date of the elections.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa said last week that the date would be announced this month.
The president is also expected to outline a plan to deal with the issue of failing state-owned entities (SOEs).
Eskom is sitting with a debt of R419billion, SAA needs R21.7bn to stay afloat for the next two years and the SABC needs a bailout of R3bn.
Ramaphosa is expected to announce the unbundling of Eskom. A task team he set up has recommended that Eskom be split into three entities, one dealing with generation, the other with distribution and the last with transmission.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said the unbundling of Eskom has to happen within a month.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said SOEs were bleeding the state with billions of rand in bailouts.
The government is saddled with R670bn in guarantees to SOEs.
Maimane said the entities remained a risk to the economy. He also urged Ramaphosa to deal with unemployment as 9million people were unemployed in the country.
Maimane said the inquiry into state capture had revealed the depth of corruption in the ANC-led government.
ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said Ramaphosa had been under pressure from the public to act on corruption - and he must do so now.
“There is pressure from the public that the commissions of inquiry are a waste of time.
“We are not going to take the president seriously unless he arrests ANC politicians involved in corruption. When the Gupta jet landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base (in 2013) it was the officials who were blamed and not the politicians,” said Meshoe.
National Freedom Party MP Nhlanhla Khubisa also said that Ramaphosa must deal with corruption.
He agreed with Maimane that the economy was also important because of the high rate of unemployment. Khubisa also warned that the healthcare system was almost in a state of collapse.
School infrastructure was in a state of disrepair, and Ramaphosa had to intervene, said Khubisa.
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the economy was in a dire state.
But he said Ramaphosa must first deal with corruption, which appeared to have spread across all government departments.
“The first thing we are expecting from the president is how he is going to deal with corruption in this country. There is not a single department that is not involved in corruption,” said Bloem.
The head of politics at Unisa, Dirk Kotze, said Ramaphosa must address the state of the economy and ramping up service delivery.
The economy has been projected to grow at about 1.3% this year.
Kotze said a key issue was jobs and restructuring the economy.
He added that Ramaphosa must also deal with the question of fixing ailing SOEs, and progress made in getting equity partners for some of them, including SAA.