VOICES | SONA 2020: Should The Nation Be Excited?

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President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture SAGovNews/

Political  analysts would like to opine that “the more things change in this country, the more they remain the same”. Well,  that’s a pessimistic view, but to give a fair analysis, it is important to focus on critical issues choking the nation currently and see how far President Cyril Ramaphosa intent to address them.

ESKOM

The country has been hard hit by incessant power cuts and the President acknowledged that the inefficiency of power supply has impacted negatively on the economy and job creation. “This severely set back our efforts to rebuild the economy and to create jobs. Every time it occurs, it disrupts people’s lives, causing frustration, inconvenience, hardship”. However, an intervention is underway to rectify the load shedding problem. He said “A Section 34 Ministerial Determination will be issued shortly to give effect to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, enabling the development of additional grid capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal”.

President Ramaphosa also said that the government will initiate procurement of emergency power supply.  He said “We will initiate the procurement of emergency power from projects that can deliver electricity into the grid within 3 to 12 months from approval. The National Energy Regulator will continue to register small scale distributed generation for own use of under 1 MW, for which no licence is required.

SAA

The President spoke on issues of corruption which has impacted negatively on the national airline. “The extent of capture, corruption and mismanagement in SOEs is best demonstrated at South Africans Airways, which was placed in business rescue late last year. He also outlined  how the airline will be given a facelift to save it from facing liquidation.”The business rescue practitioners are expected to unveil their plans for restructuring the airline in the next few weeks. In the interests of South Africa’s aviation industry and our economy, it is essential that a future restructured airline is commercially and operationally sustainable and is not dependent on further government funding.”

Women abuse and violence

Although the number of women and girls being raped and killed each day is on the rise, in his speech, the President of South Africa  Cyril Ramaphosa said that the government will work on amending the Domestic Violence Act. “We will amend the Domestic Violence Act to better protect victims in violent domestic relationships and the Sexual Offences Act to broaden the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders, and we will pass a law to tighten bail and sentencing condition in cases that involve gender-based violence”

Unemployment

This has been one of the most critical issues talked about in South Africa and youths are most hard hit by unemployment. However, at this year’s SONA, the President said interventions are underway to address unemployment. He said “of the 1.2 million young people who enter the labour market each year, approximately two-thirds remain outside of employment, education or training. More than half of all young people are unemployed. We need to make this country work for young people so that they can work for our country”.

The President also articulated how the problem of unemployment will be addressed when he said “The solution to this crisis must be two-pronged – we must all create opportunities for youth employment and self-employment. He also gave a  time frame for the intended projects  ” On youth employment, as from today, we begin the implementation of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention – six priority actions over the next five years to reduce youth unemployment”.

In a nutshell, the State Of the Nation Address  (SONA) 2020  is full of hope and if all these promises are implemented, this could be the dawn of a new era! But like anything else, time will reveal everything, but President Cyril Ramaphosa at least deserves some credit for his bold articulations.