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Five key takeaways from Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address

Five key takeaways from Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)

The final State of the Nation Address of the sixth administration presented no new ideas on how the government will deal with pressing economic and societal issues. Instead, President Cyril Ramaphosa used it as a platform to boast about the ANC-led government’s successes since the advent of democracy in South Africa.

The nostalgic State of the Nation Address (Sona) that President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered on Thursday was used to take stock of what the ANC-led administration had achieved as South Africa commemorates 30 years of democracy. 

While he did not make any grand announcements during his speech at the Cape Town City Hall, he updated citizens on measures he said the government was taking to move the country in the right direction.

His speech covered five key issues.

Crime and corruption

The President said the  Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was working tirelessly to recover funds stolen in the State Capture era. 

“Freezing orders of R14-billion have been granted to the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit for State Capture-related cases, and around R8.6-billion in corrupt proceeds have been returned to the state.

“A restored and revitalised South African Revenue Service has collected R4.8-billion in unpaid taxes as a result of evidence presented at the [State Capture] Commission, while the Special Investigating Unit has instituted civil litigation to the value of R64-billion.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: State Capture investigations at SOEs struggle amid lack of investigative and forensic skills, Scopa hears

Ramaphosa said the government was working towards introducing legislation which would eradicate money laundering and fraud and secure the country’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s “grey list”. 

“With the assistance of business, we have set up a digital forensic capability to support the NPA Investigating Directorate, which in due course will be expanded to support law enforcement more broadly.

“Legislation is currently before Parliament to establish the Investigating Directorate as a permanent entity with full investigating powers,” he said.

Unemployment

While acknowledging the staggering unemployment rate (the official figure is 31.9%) the President noted the obvious — that South Africa’s economy must grow so job opportunities can be created. 

The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey stated that the number of unemployed people had decreased by 72,000 to 7.8 million during the third quarter of 2023. Youth unemployment, however, was at 43.4%, a slight decline from 45.3% in the second quarter of 2023.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Lost decades — horrendous unemployment keeps South Africa jobless rate above 20% since 2000

Ramaphosa spoke about potential investments which could create jobs.

“Companies continue to invest, thousands of hectares of farmland are being planted, new factories are being opened and production is being expanded. 

“We are on track to resolve the most important constraints on economic growth by stabilising our energy supply and fixing our logistics system. As these obstacles are removed, the true potential of our economy is unleashed,” he said.

Load shedding and renewable energy

The energy crisis continues to put the brakes on South Africa’s economy and to strain households. The National Energy Crisis Committee, which was formed to deal with the power crisis, was looking to implement new ways of energy generation. 

“Last year, we implemented a major debt relief package which will enable Eskom to make investments in maintenance and transmission infrastructure and ensure its sustainability going forward,” Ramaphosa said.

Since SA’s renewable energy programme was revived five years ago, more than 2,500MW of solar and wind power had been added to the grid, with much more in the pipeline. More than 120 new private energy projects were in development after regulatory reforms enabled private investment.

“These are phenomenal developments that are driving the restructuring of our electricity sector in line with what many other economies have done to increase competitiveness and bring down prices. 

“Through all of these actions, we are confident that the worst is behind us and the end of load shedding is finally within reach,” Ramaphosa claimed.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Government’s Integrated Resource Plan acknowledges rolling blackouts will be with SA for years

He promoted clean energy solutions which will be piloted in the Northern Cape.

“We have implemented sweeping regulatory reforms to enable private investment in electricity generation, with more than 120 new private energy projects now in development.

“We are going to set up a Special Economic Zone in the Boegoebaai port to drive investment in green energy. There is a great deal of interest from the private sector to participate in the boom that will generate green hydrogen energy projects,” he said.

NHI Bill 

The President hinted that he was on the brink of signing the much-contested National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which was passed by the National Council of Provinces in December. 

While the EFF has openly supported this step, the DA believes that the legislation needs more work and will have deleterious effects on the health system.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Business organisations call on Ramaphosa to return NHI Bill to Parliament

“The National Health Insurance will provide free healthcare at the point of care for all South Africans, whether in public or private health facilities.

“We plan to incrementally implement the NHI, dealing with issues like health system financing, the health workforce, medical products, vaccines and technologies, and health information systems,” Ramaphosa said.  

Extension of SRD grant 

The President said the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant would be extended. 

The grant, which was initially introduced at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has become a small means of survival for unemployed citizens.

“We have seen the benefits of this grant and will extend it and improve it as the next step towards income support for the unemployed.

“These grants and subsidies do much more than give people what they need to live. They are an investment in the future. Social assistance has been shown to increase school enrolment and attendance, lower dropout rates and improve the pass rate,” Ramaphosa said.

However, he resisted calls to increase the grant to cover the impact of inflation or to raise it to the level of the food poverty line, which is R760. DM

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  • louiseggj says:

    I can’t help but to vomit about the speech!
    What a load off crock!

    Same speech every year!

    When will people wake up?

    None of the issues that need urgent attention was addressed!

    Line your pockets, government, line it!

    You are pathetic!

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Boegoebaai Port….Could that be Lambert’ s Bay…..not on Google Maps even. …….. Read yesterday, UK is considering a green Hydrogen plant….

    • Johan Buys says:

      Couple of miles south of Alexander Bay. I think presently mainly diamond diving boats.

      Brutally beautiful part of our coast, amazing people.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Crime and Corruption – the ANC’s own estimate is that the (official) state capture years cost SA R1 trillion (probably double that), so they’re trying to recoup (no guarantee of success) between 5% and 10% of what they themselves stole.
    Unemployment – up from 29% to 32% under Ramaphosa. Enough said.
    Load shedding and renewable energy – should be a thing of the past, except his own minister blocks the delivery of renewable power at every turn. He’s even made blackouts policy in the latest IRP!
    NHI – the iceberg to SA’s Titanic.
    Extension of SRD grant – an admission that the ANC cannot create an environment conducive to growth and employment generation outside of the bloated bureaucracy: Ramaphosa begs business to employ the youth ‘without needing prior experience’ but still expects this at the minimum wage: why not let companies do this at the EPWP wage that government pays? That would encourage many more companies to hire (assuming they’re not cutting back on staff as the economy tanks).

  • 30 years of auditable decline not mentioned – Just another spin on the trivial items that you have not stuffed up yet and that do not make the difference we so desire. Was it not for private initiative in SA we would have been a complete failed state. Sorry Mr Pres we can longer believe the well dressed up but ever so empty words of promise. As long as you suffer and rely on the excuses of distant history of apartheid you and the ANC will never advance but decline to irrelevance. We should listen to the unfiltered but true comments from the unsophisticated voices like Drikus du Plessis to really determine the actual State of the Nation

  • Wim Human says:

    “However, he resisted calls to increase the grant to cover the impact of inflation or to raise it to the level of the food poverty line, which is R760.”
    ANC the Party for the people? What a joke they are!

    BUT they can pour billions into already bankrupt state enterprises.?
    BUT they can pay themselves outrageous salaries and perks.?
    While the poor of the poor get R350.?
    I am disgusted by their careless and useless leadership qualities.

    To use SONA as a campaign project means to me that the ANC must pay from their own coffers the total cost of SONA or give all the other parties the same exposure at State Expense. Shame on you ANC.

  • Stanislav Zimela Nkosi kaMthembu says:

    You deport illegal aliens in RSA, you solve a significant part of the unemployment problem, and yes, it is indeed that simple, sensible, rational, logical, legal and doable.

  • JAJ Stewart says:

    Gaslighting the whole nation. The abuser telling us how we’ve got it wrong, taking credit for our durability, resilience, ingenuity and resourcefulness while refusing to admit they have anything to do with the abuse.

  • Adriaan De La Rey says:

    “R8.6-billion in corrupt proceeds have been returned to the state”….. only to be stolen again.

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    If it is so easy – just legislate that ALL unemployed must be employed within x number of day after he has signed the legislation. Problem solved.

  • Michael Grosse says:

    It is so tiring hearing the same old story. If the ANC could just realize that the minorities make up such a small proportion & they have so much to contribute. By natural attrition, The majority would automatically inherit the befits if they look after the contributions that are made to the society. As things stand they have just rushed to the destruction of most of the assets that were inherited & put road blocks in the way of the additional huge contribution which is just hovering in the wings. How short sighted.

  • Egmont Rohwer says:

    Which Take-Aways is he talking about – T-Shirts and Kentucky Fried Chicken? Get rid of the ComRAIDS.

  • Francois MELLET says:

    What a Waste of my Good Time, listening to all this BS !!!!!!!!!!

  • J L says:

    “Yeah, they give a little packaged smile
    To you like a friend
    And when they take a hundred pounds
    You sit there thanking them…”
    https://genius.com/Whitey-lies-lies-lie
    Did not bother listening it’s becoming worse than “The Matrix”…

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    5 key takeaways for me are:

    1. The ANC continue to try to fool the uneducated and the gullible.
    2. The ANC continue promising everything and delivering nothing.
    3. Thieving ANC ministers never pay for their crimes.
    4. The ANC continue to lie to protect their own even though they know they are breaking the law.
    5. The ANC has made everyone’s lives worse over the last 30 years.

    • Paul Caiger says:

      Agree. You nailed it. The journalists should research all the stats that Squirrel spouted and report on them. They are probably all BS and the ANC idiots in the audience applaud as if they were true.

  • Charles Wait says:

    Although the President admitted the effects of state capture, he failed to admit that on more or less all the facilities the government, with the hard work and initiative of the unsung heroes, the taxpayers, have put at the disposal of the young girl born in his example, there are serious omissions. How many RDP houses were built at inflated prices, what is the net number of RDP houses after allowing for those that collapsed or at near-collapse, what about the many hospitals and clinics that are dysfunctional, de-motivated teachers, to name only a few gaps. He referred to the Premier of the Eastern Cape who said potholes will be repaired and roads fixed, why did public roads land in the condition they are, the same for rail transport and harbours? There is no other reason than 30 years of neglect instead of 30 years of building. This year’s SONA was neatly captured to let the taxpayer pay R6.5million for an ANC election campaign that reminds me of how he captured the Springboks winning the World Cup for the same purpose through the speech to the nation on the Monday after the World Cup was won.

    Twelve instead of sixty ships waiting at Durban harbour – how many of the 48 have decided not to come back to Durban?

    Does professionalizing the Public Service mean the end of cadre deployment or will professional cadres be deployed?

    Why must he be accompanied by so many luxury cars, why can those officials, when they are indeed necessary for inclusion in his entourage, not travel in far more modest cars?

  • A Voice says:

    The NHI Bill.
    I cannot deny, wouldn’t free healthcare just be “the beans” for South Africans. But I believe that some grass root level factors should be considered and questions asked.
    How? Where is the money? Just recently more cuts were made in the healthcare budget affecting three major research hospitals. One may say, “but that’s research, we’re talking care for everyone”. To which I will respond, there’s a common denominator between the two – both need to be funded.

    To the incremental manner of implementation, how is this going to be decided to keep it from being partial and discriminatory?

    Will the NHI actually be free for all?

    A helpful proviso, actually perhaps we should say, a requirement must be that, starting with the President, all politicians and those in favor of this bill must, when implemented, seen to believe in it by show of use – no favors or exceptions. No more flights out of the country for health reasons. And please, no blue light brigades to the hospital of choice (I couldn’t help myself).

    Then, do those who have experienced a national health initiative speak well of it? Does anyone know?
    Based on our most recent track record of public healthcare, is the danger not that we are staring a billion Rand spectacle of horror in the face.
    But then, if as a servant of RSA, you, President Ramaphosa, your wife and your children are willing to lead by example, stand the line, and adhere to the regulations you sign into being – well there just might be hope.

    • Hidden Name says:

      NHI is a disaster in the UK. If they can’t do it, how do these fools think they can get it right? Repeating the same bloody mistakes they made with outcomes based education. Incompetent destroyers is the polite way to describe the ANC government.

      • Johan Buys says:

        NHI is also a disaster in Canada.

        Our kids emigrated, still 18 months later no assigned GP, think they were 1600 on waiting list. Essentially only health care they have is (1) emergency like car accident go to hospital (2) do medical stuff back here when they visit.

  • Confucious Says says:

    5 takeaways from the anc: Mc Donalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Nandos and Chickin Lickin!

  • johanschoeman03 says:

    Nostalgic?? At best, an embarrassment to say the least. I cannot believe the unmitigated gall to go on a public stage and deliver this speech and pretend that the government has done a great job with 5 take items highlighted and offered up as successes. It was feeble and pathetic and my heart goes out to the millions of South Africans who struggle on a daily basis now to make ends meet. The act that money was spent on this hypocrisy makes me angry.
    It is just plain wrong.

  • James Baxter says:

    But let’s be honest, a government can only do so much and the rest is expected to come from the population in general. Of course a country can be blessed with a guy like President Kagame, whose leadership takes a country to another level of development and all that. There can only be one President Kagame, and it is usually an issue of weak leadership from our political class that is the norm and not an exception. What can we do because a person of Kagame’s calibre is hard to come by and a people blessed with such leadership capacity should count their lucky stars

  • Thabang Seemela says:

    Good to hear I’m that

  • W De Soto says:

    Can the police be improved?

  • Very disappointed I could not watch SONA, we had load shedding.

  • Just Me says:

    From Sofa to Sona. Bare faced lying with a straight face is what Cyril does best. The ANC has been tragic for South Africans.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    Can’t improve employment, because 40% are unemployable.

  • Jan Vos says:

    This is South Africa. You don’t take things away – you just STEAL it! Just what the politicians do all the time.

  • drew barrimore says:

    One Tintswalo Doth Not A Summer Make.

  • Richie Rich says:

    I think Ramaphosa needs to remember the poor and give them succor.

  • Doug Kydd says:

    If only the real news could reach the rural voters. That’s where the ANC strength lies. The educated urban voters are the opposition. The EFF is another problem.

  • Hailey Mowat says:

    To the team at daily maverick,
    I understand that in questioning the unemployment rate the comparison to other South American countries was made. Statistics are beneficial, but I usually ascribe but a cursory glance in ebuing them to circumstances. In regard to lower increases in the rate of employment, I concede that this is not necessarily unexpected. During the pandemic we saw employers ascribe much attention to retaining salaries and eventually, understandably were affronted with layoffs. After companies were more slanted to streamlining in the face of a crippled, struggling economy and liquidation fears. Caution on that side would potend balance rather than a huge uptick of more unstable economies. Respectfully yours, Hailey Mowat

  • Marilyn Tromp says:

    The rural areas have no electricity, no jobs and very often no water. The ANC promises that load shedding will soon be a thing of the past, that unemployment has improved etc etc, will not help them at all, so they will still traditionally vote for the ANC in the hope of better things to come. They just don’t understand how badly the ANC has failed them and failed the whole country. What a sad state of affairs.

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