CAPE TOWN – Opposition parties have described Thursday night’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) as pie in the sky.
Opposition politicians found President Cyril Ramaphosa speech uninspiring and chronically low on real solutions to the problems that were plaguing South Africa, like Eskom’s financial woes and the state of other ailing state-owned enterprises.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said: “No turns of a plan on what we’re going to do with Eskom, more retro coming from the president talking about, in fact, a different departure from February where he talked about unbundling. This time around he’s talking about a stimulus plan that goes into that.”
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was more scathing, saying Ramaphosa didn’t seem to have a clue about what he wanted for South Africa.
“The man wanted to be president for the last 30 years, he still doesn’t know what he wants to do for South Africa, except to tell us that he’s dreaming.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota and other smaller parties had similar views on the speech.
They also did not warm to the president’s plans for Eskom, calling them unconvincing.
In his Sona in February, Ramaphosa spoke about unbundling the struggling power utility and making it self-sustaining.
But on Thursday night, he signalled there was a long and expensive road ahead for the utility, one that must be walked because Eskom was too important to fail.
Hlengwa said they had every reason to be confused about Ramaphosa’s plan for Eskom.
“It is confusing precisely because Eskom is on the verge of a bailout and so, yet again we’re throwing financial solutions to their financial problems. The issues remain, consistently so, the collapse of government structures within all these SOEs.”
The United Democratic Movement’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said Ramaphosa was basically offering Eskom a massive bailout.
“For instance, even when it comes to Eskom, they use nice financial genre and say special appropriation for a bailout.”
To add to opposition parties’ annoyance, Ramaphosa wasn’t able to give even the most basic of details about Eskom’s future, saying they would be announcing the appointment of a new CEO following the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe.
The president also had no update on the other big appointment at Eskom, the Chief Restructuring Officer, meant to oversee the repositioning of the company.
Given Thursday night’s response to Ramaphosa’s speech, it seemed likely the president would be in for a rough ride in the week to come when parties get to pick the address apart in the debate on Sona.
ON ECONOMY AND CRIME
From lower data costs to more than 100,000 jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined seven priorities for the new administration when he delivered his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night.
So, what exactly does the president have in store for South Africans? While it’s not clear how exactly Ramaphosa’s government will deliver on his 7 big promises, EWN has summarised what voters can look out for.
The president said the government would work towards an ethical state, and would not tolerate corruption, patronage, rent-seeking and plundering of public money. To do this, Ramaphosa vowed to strengthen the NPA, SIU, Sars and State Security Agency.
Ramaphosa said the new SIU Special Tribunal would start its work within the next few months to fast-track civil claims arising from SIU investigations, which are currently estimated to be around R14.7 billion.
The president also said government only wanted corps of skilled and professional public servants of the highest moral standards, dedicated to the public’s interest.