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SONA 2020: Fixing the fundamentals

State of the Nation Address

During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 13 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa assured South Africans that government is firmly focussed on fixing the fundamentals this year. 

“Government is committed to pursuing critical areas of growth and ensuring excellence in planning and execution,” he added.

One of the most critical issues tackled by the President was loadshedding. He said while loadshedding remains a possibility for the immediate future and government will implement measures to  energy generation in the country.

President Ramaphosa announced that measures will be put in place to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers.

Among various other planned initiatives, the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 will enable the development of additional grid capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal.

Jobs for young people

The President says, job creation and addressing youth unemployment remain firmly on government’s agenda.

Of the 1.2 million young people who enter the labour market each year, approximately two thirds remain outside of employment, education or training.

“From today, we begin the implementation of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention – six priority actions over the next five years to reduce youth unemployment.”

The intervention includes launching five prototype sites, in five provinces, to grow a national network to reach three million youth via:

  • multiple channels
  • providing shorter, more flexible courses in specific skills that employers in fast-growing sectors need
  • developing innovative ways to support youth entrepreneurship and self-employment
  • scaling up the Youth Employment Service
  • establishing the first cohort of a Presidential Youth Service programme
  • leading a youth employment initiative.

Always high on government’s agenda is education. “We are making progress with the introduction of the three-stream curriculum model, heralding a fundamental shift in focus towards more vocational and technical education.”

He said various technical vocational specialisations have been introduced in 550 schools and 67 schools are piloting the occupational stream.

“We are building nine new technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college campuses this year,” the President confirmed.

Combatting crime and GBV

Police visibility, effective training and better resourcing of police stations were promised by the President.

“I have prioritised our response to the growing problem of criminal groups that extort money from construction and other businesses,” the President said, explaining that specialised units - bringing together the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority - are mandated to combat these crimes.

In terms of rooting out corruption, the Joint Government and Civil Society Working Group is developing a national anti-corruption strategy and implementation plan, which should be launched by the middle of the year.

“The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture continues with its critical work with the full support of government and other institutions.

“I have received a detailed report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation. I will make it available to the public, together with a plan on taking the findings and recommendations forward."

Government’s emergency action plan to combat gender-based violence (GBV) will see the Domestic Violence Act amended to better protect victims in violent domestic relationships, while the Sexual Offences Act will be changed to broaden sex offender categories.

"Over the past two years, we have worked together to build a foundation for progress. Now is the time for us to build on that foundation."

Other priorities

Government is thus introducing the SheTradesZA platform to assist women-owned businesses to participate in global value chains and markets, and the Industrial Development Corporation is targeting R10 billion of own and partner funding for women-empowered businesses over the next five years.

“The empowerment of women is critical to inclusive economic growth,” the President said.

In addition, the Procurement Bill will soon be presented to Parliament to empower black and emerging businesses and advance radical economic transformation.

 “Over the past two years, we have worked together to build a foundation for progress. Now is the time for us to build on that foundation, to unite, to work, to persevere. We will not surrender our future to doubt, or despair, or division. We will continue our onward march to freedom,” the President concluded.