SoNA 2018: A new dawn

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Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa shares his vi­sion for a bet­ter South Africa

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa used his maiden State of the Na­tion Ad­dress to call on all South Africans to unite to cre­ate his­tory, say­ing “a new dawn is upon us”.

He urged cit­i­zens to leave be­hind the neg­a­tiv­ity that has dogged the coun­try and in the spirit of hon­our­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela fo­cus on re­build­ing as well as hope and re­newal.

This year South Africa cel­e­brates the cen­te­nary of Madiba, who was born on 18 July 1918.

Turn­ing the tide on cor­rup­tion

Guided by the val­ues of Madiba, the Pres­i­dent said it's time to take a stand against op­pres­sion and cor­rup­tion.

“We will de­vote our ev­ery ac­tion, ev­ery ef­fort, ev­ery ut­ter­ance to the re­al­i­sa­tion of his vi­sion of a demo­cratic, just and eq­ui­table so­ci­ety.

“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of cor­rup­tion in our pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions,” said Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

A com­mis­sion led by Judge Ray­mond Zondo is to in­ves­ti­gate what has be­come known as state cap­ture.

“The com­mis­sion is crit­i­cal to en­sur­ing that the ex­tent and na­ture of state cap­ture is es­tab­lished, that con­fi­dence in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion is re­stored and that those re­spon­si­ble for any wrong­do­ing are iden­ti­fied,” said the Pres­i­dent.

“The com­mis­sion should not dis­place the reg­u­lar work of the coun­try's law en­force­ment agen­cies in in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing any and all acts of cor­rup­tion,” the Pres­i­dent stressed.

Not­ing that cor­rup­tion does not oc­cur only in the pub­lic sec­tor, he called for cor­rup­tion in the pri­vate sec­tor to be ad­dressed with the same in­ten­sity.

The Pres­i­dent also urged pro­fes­sional bod­ies to take ac­tion against mem­bers who had erred and an­nounced that lead­er­ship is­sues at the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) would be given ur­gent at­ten­tion. Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa stressed that this is to en­sure the NPA is sta­bilised and is able to do its work un­hin­dered.

The Pres­i­dent turned to the vi­tal South African Rev­enue Ser­vice which he said must also be sta­bilised.

“We must un­der­stand that tax mo­ral­ity is de­pen­dent on an im­plicit con­tract be­tween tax­pay­ers and govern­ment that state spend­ing pro­vides value for money and is free from cor­rup­tion,” he added.

Sta­bil­is­ing sta­te­owned en­ti­ties

The Pres­i­dent also high­lighted the

need for state-owned en­ti­ties (SOEs) to be re­vi­talised, say­ing that many of these en­ti­ties face se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial, op­er­a­tional and gov­er­nance is­sues.

Govern­ment will work to en­sure all SOEs ful­fil their eco­nomic and de­vel­op­men­tal man­dates. He fo­cused on the ef­forts taken to strengthen gov­er­nance and erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion in or­der to re­store Eskom's fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.

The Pres­i­dent con­ceded that the chal­lenges at some SOEs are struc­tural and that they don't have enough in­come to fund their op­er­a­tions.

“Such SOEs can­not bor­row their way out of fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and we will there­fore un­der­take a process of con­sul­ta­tion with all stake­hold­ers to re­view the fund­ing model of SOEs and other mea­sures,” said the Pres­i­dent.

He also pointed specif­i­cally to the way boards of SOEs are ap­pointed and said these will change and board mem­bers will no longer be al­lowed to in­ter­fere in pro­cure­ment pro­cesses. Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa flagged the fact that the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral will strengthen ex­ter­nal au­dit pro­cesses.

Cre­at­ing a strong ca­pa­ble state

In his speech, the Pres­i­dent said growth, de­vel­op­ment and trans­for­ma­tion de­pend on a strong, ca­pa­ble and ef­fi­cient state. He said that the struc­ture and size of the state had to be suited to peo­ple's needs and it had to use state funds ef­fi­ciently.

He said the con­fig­u­ra­tion, num­ber and size of na­tional govern­ment de­part­ments will be re­viewed.

He noted that while most of the mil­lion pub­lic ser­vants serve with dili­gence and com­mit­ment, there were in­stances where cit­i­zens re­ceived poor or no ser­vice from pub­lic ser­vants.

The Pres­i­dent en­cour­aged all who serve the na­tion to ad­here to the prin­ci­ples of Batho Pele and to per­form with ef­fi­ciency, dili­gence and in­tegrity. Ad­her­ence to a new dis­ci­pline − do­ing things cor­rectly, com­pletely and timeously − was needed, he added.

Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa plans to visit ev­ery provin­cial and lo­cal govern­ment depart­ment and meet provin­cial and govern­ment lead­ers to en­sure that the state meets peo­ple's needs.

Eco­nomic growth

With South Africa's eco­nomic growth lag­ging, the Pres­i­dent has said that the govern­ment planned to trim the bu­reau­cracy in open­ing small busi­nesses which he said are vi­tal to the eco­nomic growth of the coun­try.

“We will work with our so­cial part­ners to build a small busi­ness sup­port ecosys­tem that as­sists, nour­ishes and pro­motes en­trepreneurs,” he said.

Govern­ment will hon­our its un­der­tak­ing to set aside at least 30 per­cent of pub­lic pro­cure­ment for small, medium and mi­cro en­ter­prises, co­op­er­a­tives and town­ship and ru­ral en­ter­prises. It will also con­tinue in­vest­ing in small busi­ness in­cu­ba­tion and en­cour­ages busi­ness to do so too.

The Pres­i­dent said the

es­tab­lish­ment a R1.5 bil­lion small busi­ness fund through the CEO Ini­tia­tive is an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of the role the pri­vate sec­tor can play.

In ad­di­tion he added that govern­ment was fi­nal­is­ing a small busi­ness and in­no­va­tion fund aimed at start-ups and would re­duce the reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers for small busi­nesses.

Tackling poverty

The Pres­i­dent said govern­ment has to take ex­tra mea­sures to re­duce poverty and help un­em­ployed peo­ple.

“Since the start of the cur­rent Par­lia­ment, our pub­lic em­ploy­ment pro­grammes have cre­ated more than 3.2 mil­lion work op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

“In the con­text of wide­spread un­em­ploy­ment, they con­tinue to pro­vide much needed in­come, work ex­pe­ri­ence and train­ing,” he added.

Govern­ment's free ba­sic ser­vices pro­gramme sup­ports over 3.5 mil­lion house­holds, and more than 17 mil­lion so­cial grants are paid monthly to al­most a third of the 54 mil­lion peo­ple of South Africa.

With the lo­cal econ­omy show­ing mod­er­ate re­cov­ery and com­mod­ity prices ris­ing, cou­pled with a more buoy­ant stock mar­ket and stronger rand, there are early in­di­ca­tions that in­vestor con­fi­dence is on the up.

In ad­di­tion, he said govern­ment has moved to ad­dress con­cerns about po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity and com­mu­ni­cate its com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing pol­icy cer­tainty and con­sis­tency.

With an uptick in busi­ness con­fi­dence among South

African com­pa­nies and re­newed in­ter­est among for­eign in­vestors, South Africa will be in­tro­duc­ing mea­sures to set the coun­try on a new path of growth, em­ploy­ment and trans­for­ma­tion such as build­ing on ex­ist­ing co­op­er­a­tion with busi­ness and labour to re­store con­fi­dence and pre­vent an in­vest­ment down­grade.

“There will be a ma­jor push to en­cour­age sig­nif­i­cant new in­vest­ment and govern­ment will ad­dress man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity that has de­clined over many years and deeply af­fected em­ploy­ment and ex­ports,” he said.

“We will seek to rein­dus­tri­alise on a scale and at a pace that draws mil­lions of job seek­ers into the econ­omy.”

“We are go­ing to pro­mote greater in­vest­ment in key man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors through the use of in­cen­tives and other mea­sures,” added Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

Crit­i­cal to any de­vel­op­ing state is man­u­fac­tur­ing, and the Pres­i­dent said the South African govern­ment will forge ahead with the lo­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme through which prod­ucts like tex­tile, cloth­ing, fur­ni­ture, rail rolling stock and wa­ter me­ters would be des­ig­nated for lo­cal pro­cure­ment.

“We have al­ready spent R57 bil­lion on lo­cally pro­duced goods that may have been im­ported from other coun­tries,” said Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

He also an­nounced the

in­tro­duc­tion of a na­tional min­i­mum wage to re­duce wage in­equal­ity while main­tain­ing eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation.

The Pres­i­dent will ap­point a Pres­i­den­tial Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil that will draw on the ex­per­tise of labour, busi­ness, civil so­ci­ety and aca­demics in or­der to im­ple­ment eco­nomic pol­icy co­her­ently and con­sis­tently and en­sure the abil­ity to re­spond to chang­ing eco­nomic cir­cum­stances.

Fo­cus on the youth

The Pres­i­dent said govern­ment is in­tent on giv­ing at­ten­tion to the youth, from the age of early learn­ing right through to the time of ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, work ex­pe­ri­ence and en­trepreneur­ship.

“Break­ing the cy­cle of poverty starts with ed­u­cat­ing the chil­dren of the poor, start­ing in early child­hood,” he noted.

Al­most a mil­lion chil­dren are in early child­hood de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­i­ties and at the other end of the spec­trum, al­most a mil­lion stu­dents are en­rolled in higher ed­u­ca­tion.

This year fee-free ed­u­ca­tion will be in­tro­duced among first-year stu­dents from homes with a gross an­nual house­hold in­come of up to R350 000. Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa said this in­vest­ment in higher ed­u­ca­tion is ex­pected to con­trib­ute to eco­nomic growth, re­duced poverty and in­equal­ity, en­hanced earn­ings and bet­ter eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness.

He then sin­gled out youth un­em­ploy­ment as one of the coun­try's most press­ing chal­lenges, adding young South Africans had to be moved to the cen­tre of South Africa's eco­nomic agenda.

The youth rep­re­sent the greater pro­por­tion of the labour force work­ing on govern­ment's in­fra­struc­ture projects, so­lar wa­ter heaters and the war on leaks pro­gramme.

“We con­tinue to draw young peo­ple in far greater num­bers into pro­duc­tive eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity through pro­grammes such as the Em­ploy­ment

Tax In­cen­tive,” said Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

In ad­di­tion, govern­ment will launch the Youth Em­ploy­ment Ser­vice Ini­tia­tive that will place un­em­ployed youth in paid in­tern­ships in com­pa­nies across the econ­omy. A mil­lion of these in­tern­ships will be cre­ated in the next three years.

He an­nounced that a Jobs Sum­mit would be con­vened in the com­ing months to align the ef­forts of all sec­tors and stake­hold­ers in job cre­ation ef­forts.

“The sum­mit will look at what we need to do to en­sure our econ­omy grows and be­comes more pro­duc­tive, that com­pa­nies in­vest on a far greater scale, that work­ers are bet­ter equipped, and that our in­fra­struc­ture is ex­panded.”

“We will ex­pect it to come up with prac­ti­cal solutions and ini­tia­tives for im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion,” said the Pres­i­dent.

Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa said he was de­ter­mined to im­prove the lives of South Africans as quickly as pos­si­ble.

He re­called the words of the late Hugh Masekela, who in his song ‘Thuma Mina' said: “I wanna lend a hand, send me”, as he an­tic­i­pated a day of re­newal and new be­gin­nings.

“Now is the time to lend a hand. Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me'. Now is the time for all of us to work to­gether, in hon­our of Nel­son Man­dela, to build a new, bet­ter South Africa for all,” urged Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

“Now is the time to lend a hand. Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’ .”

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa de­liv­ers the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.

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