Social and economic changes were the focus of the speech by President Cyril Ramaphosa during this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday night.
The President proposed changes aimed at improving the economy through job creation and helping solve the socio-economic issues faced by the state. He said government had decided to do away with the requirement of work experience in state institutions at entry-level.
The biggest change, however, was the split of the country’s biggest State Owned Enterprise (SOE), Eskom. The plant has been split into three state-owned entities each with a different objective – generation, transmission and distribution. The hope is that this decision will help stabilise Eskom’s finances.
Especially since the status of a SOE of its magnitude has a direct impact on the country’s economy. This was proved by the drop in the Rand as the President delivered this particular plan in his speech. It was at 0.91% before the speech started and dropped to 0.42% by the time he was done.
Furthermore, President Ramaphosa addressed the ongoing State Capture issue by announcing that the National Prosecuting Authority would form a special unit to investigate the matter. He said this was one of the steps needed in ensuring the eradication of corruption in South Africa.
Following the hope, possibility, and direction President Ramaphosa gave on the night, many opposition parties remained sceptical about the strides that would be made for the promises to be achieved practically.
However, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said that he wanted to hear more about job creation and the steps that would be taken to decrease the crime rates in various communities. The leader of the Freedom Front, Pieter Groenewald, shared this sentiment.
The President also announced the date of the national elections during his speech – 8 May 2019.
On the note of the elections, the President wasn’t shy to share his sharp wit during the address. Before beginning his speech, in response to a challenge from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema to sing Hugh Masekela’s “Thuma Mina”, the President said that he would do just that if the EFF won the election in May. And furthermore that Mmuisi Maimane would be in the band