South Africans jubilant after SoNA
Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa’s maiden State of the Nation Address (SoNA), delivered in Parliament on 16 February, has inspired citizens across the country.
This is a year of hope, renewal and change with government intent on building a society in which everyone is free, equal before the law, shares in the country’s wealth and has a better life.
Encouraging economic growth and inclusivity, job creation, improving access to education, developing infrastructure and access to decent healthcare and dealing a meaningful blow to corruption were among the SoNA’s main themes.
The President recalled the values of late President Nelson Mandela and struggle heroine Albertina Sisulu, who would both have turned 100 years old this year. He recounted President Mandela’s integrity
“We will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behaviour and ethical leadership” said President Ramaphosa President Ramaphosa said leaders agreed that the main goal is to build a society defined by decency and integrity, one that does not tolerate the abuse of public resources or theft by corporations.
Economic growth has been inadequate and public finances have been constrained. This has limited government’s ability to invest more in economic and social development to the benefit of its 57 million people.
Government has taken extra measures to reduce poverty and meet the needs of the unemployed. Public employment programmes have created over 3.2 million opportunities that provide:
• an income, work experience and training; the free basic services programme supports over 3.5 million poor households; over 17 million social grants are paid monthly.
Government has almost one million children in early childhood development facilities and has improved the basic education system. In addition, almost one million students are enrolled for higher education.
This year government will start introducing free higher education and training to first-year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350 000.
The Funza Lushaka Bursary programme will award 39 500 bursaries for Initial Teacher Education over the next three years and from 2018 all public schools offer an African language as part of the curriculum.
Youth unemployment is an urgent and serious challenge. “Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda,” he said.
Young people can gain exposure to the world of work through internships, apprenticeships and mentorship, in partnership with
Growth, employment and transformation
President Ramaphosa said government, with civil society and the private sector, will introduce measures to put South Africa on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.
The planned initiatives include a jobs summit, to unify sectors and stakeholders to find practical ways of tackling youth unemployment; and an investment conference, to encourage significant new investment in the economy by local and international players.
The President said the decline in manufacturing has deeply hurt employment and exports. “Government will seek to reindustrialise on a massive scale; promote
Crime and corruption
“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions,” the President announced.
A commission of inquiry will seek to identify the extent and nature of state capture, restore confidence in public institutions and identify wrongdoers.
“The Commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting all acts of corruption.
We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity.
We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe there is someone who is prepared to pay it. We will make sure that we deal with both,” President Ramaphosa confirmed.