#SONA2019 - Promises Made but Will the New Dawn Stand the Test of Political Will?

By Musa Mdunge

On 20 June President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his third state of the nation address for thi year, following the 08 May elections.  Ramaphosa sought to bring the nation and the world at large into his confidence by the laying out government's plan for revitalizing the economy and South Africa's social cohesion and nation-building project. Ramaphosa stated his government will focus on seven priorities:
  • Economic transformation and job creation
  • Education, skills and health
  • Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services
  • Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
  • Social cohesion and safe communities
  • A capable, ethical and developmental state
  • A better Africa and World
Here are some of the leading topics he covered in his pitch to South Africans:


The president stated that government was in the processs of revising the NHI detailed plan of implementation, including accelerating quality of care initiatives in public facilities, building human resource capacity, establishment of the NHI Fund structure, and costing the administration of the NHI Fund.
He stated that 

"we remain concerned about rising HIV infections rates, particularly among young women, and the relatively low numbers of men testing for HIV and starting treatment.
We will intensify our work to implement the 90-90-90 strategy to end HIV as a public health threat, which includes increasing the number of people on treatment by at least another 2 million by December 2020."


SOEs have been a huge drain on the economy and the fiscus given the debt gurantees that government has had the roll out. Moreover, Eskom's inability to meet national electrcity demand in the past 11 yearts, has impacted on South Africa's economic growth and investor confidence. 

The president stated that:
Eskom is facing serious financial, operational and structural problems. Since the load shedding earlier this year, Eskom has made much progress in implementing its nine-point plan, ensuring better maintenance of its generation fleet, reducing costs and ensuring adequate reserves of coal.
In line with the recommendations of both the Eskom Sustainability Task Team and the Technical Review Team, Eskom is deploying its most skilled and experienced personnel to where they are needed most. The utility’s financial position remains a matter of grave concern.
With the current committed funding from government, outlined in the 2019 Budget, Eskom has sufficient cash to meet its obligations until the end of October 2019.
For Eskom to default on its loans will cause a cross-default on its remaining debt and would have a huge impact on the already constrained fiscus.
We will therefore table a Special Appropriation Bill on an urgent basis to allocate a significant portion of the R230 billion fiscal support that Eskom will require over the next 10 years in the early years. This we must do because Eskom is to vital to our economy to be allowed to fail.

However, he did not give much details rather leaving that to Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni to present a detailed plan to Parliment.

Spatial Economic Zones and Public Investment

The president recognised that South Africa's slow growth was due to, in part, the strucutual nature inherited from Aparthied. Given this he maiantained ANC's long held policy postion on focusing on spatial economic zones and the public investment in order to stimulate economic growth and job creation. 

"Through spatial interventions like special economic zones, reviving local industrial parks, business centres, digital hubs and township and village enterprises, we will bring economic development to local areas. We will also focus on small medium enterprises in our cities, townships and rural areas and create market places where they trade their products.
We will make good on our ambition to more than double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030."
said Ramaphosa. 

On public investment, he said that

"Our new approach to infrastructure development is based on stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors, and with local communities.
It includes a special package of financial and institutional measures to boost construction and prioritise water infrastructure, roads and student accommodation through a more efficient use of budgeted money.
As announced in the previous SONA, Government has set aside R100 billion to seed the Infrastructure Fund. We are working to institutionalise the fund, which will be managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, with the newly configured Department of Public Works and Infrastructure playing an oversight role."

The Reserve Bank

Following the internal battles within the ANC over the mandate of the SARB, the president moved to present the government's postion on the SARB's objective. 

The South African Reserve Bank is a critical institution of our democracy, enjoying wide credibility and standing within the country and internationally. Price stability is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for economic growth  Rising prices of goods and services erode the purchasing power of all South Africans, but especially that of the poor.

 Today we reaffirm this constitutional mandate, which the Reserve Bank must pursue independently, without fear, favour or prejudice.
Land Reform

The president was thin on government's postion on land reform, rather arguing that it remained an unfolding issue yet government remained committed to land reform.  

"We have received the report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, which will now be presented to Cabinet for consideration. The panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme.
In the immediate term, government will accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements and for farming.
In the stimulus and recovery package announced last year, we promised to prioritise funding for emerging farmers. Over the medium term budget period, R3.9 billion has been allocated to the Land Bank to support black commercial farmers" 
Ramaphosa stated.

Jobs of the future

"We are implementing the Early Grade Reading Programme, which consists of an integrated package of lesson plans, additional reading materials and professional support to Foundation Phase teachers. This forms part of the broader efforts to strengthen the basic education system by empowering school leadership teams, improving the capabilities of teachers and ensuring a more consistent measurement of progress for grades 3, 6 and 9."
He further stated that, 

"we also have to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. This is why we are introducing subjects like coding and data analytics at a primary school level."

Questions to ask

Does the president have the political capital to move his party and government in line to what it needs to do for the country?

Given his execuitve cut, has he done enough to improve the bureaucratic system's effiencey to dleiver basic services to our people?

What support will governent give to small business in order to empower the export competitvness?

Lastly,  what is our collective contribution to project South Africa?

You decide!


Article Tags

South Africa

State of the Nation Address

Cyril Ramaphosa

New Dawn


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