It’s all over, bar the shouting. Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered his second SONA 2019 speech on Thursday evening, and yes, this really will be the last one for the year. Not much has changed since February, but there may be a prevailing sense of deja vu in South Africa.
The president addressed everything from Eskom, to employment, and expropriation… sort of. His 80-minute speech was more pragmatic than engaging, but given the sombre source material, it was par for the course. Here are the highlights from the president’s disruption-free – if not slightly surprising – SONA 2019 speech:
SONA 2019: Six big talking points from Cyril Ramaphosa:
Eskom will be swallowing more public funds
Eskom have been promised “a large chunk” of R230bn from the fiscal fund to last them for the next ten years. The investment would cover 60% of their current debt. Ramaphosa also declared that the utility has enough cash to last “until October 2019”. Expect some of that enormous donation to find its way to Eskom very soon.
SONA 2019: Good news for the jobs market
Unemployment may be one of the most debilitating factors of South Africa’s economy right now. But Ramaphosa gave us reasons to be cheerful on Thursday night. The president says he’s secured R840bn in funding to create 155 000 jobs over the next five years – a number he wants to see expanded to two million by 2020. He’s dreaming big.
President Cyril Ramaphosa: Government will also ensure that young people are employed in social economy jobs such as early childhood development and health care. We will expand the National Youth Service to take on 50,000 young people a year. #SONA2019
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) June 20, 2019
Did Cyril Ramaphosa answer the land question?
Ramaphosa told Parliament that his team would “accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land” to the poorer sections of society. However, the devil was in the detail of what he didn’t say: Cyril made no mention of expropriation without compensation, but only of “land reform” – make of that what you will.
“Faster economic growth also requires accelerated land reform in rural and urban areas and a clear property rights regime. We have received the report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, which will now be presented to Cabinet for consideration.”
“The panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme. In the immediate term, government will accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for urban settlements and for farming.”
Cyril Ramaphosa tells SONA 2019: Data must fall!
Oh wait, this is actually happening isn’t it? After years of calling for data prices to fall in South Africa, it looks like the wheels are in motion. The Communications Minister has been given the mandate to roll out an increased “spectrum” for mobile devicies. This will make costs cheaper, and Cyril warned the tech giants to “get on board”
Bullet trains and new cities
This really had the feel of one of those class presentations you had to do, and when you were struggling to come up with one last slide, you pulled something like this out of the bag. It seems Cyril Ramaphosa – and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille – really are serious about building a new city, and better transport links.
“We should imagine a country where bullet trains pass through Johannesburg as they travel from here to Musina, and they stop in Buffalo City on their way from Ethekwini back here.”
“I dream of a South Africa where the first entirely new city built in the democratic era rises We have not built a new city in 25 years of democracy. Around 70% of South Africans are going to be living in urban areas by 2030.”
“The cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Ethekwini are running out of space to accommodate all those who throng to the cities. Has the time not arrived for us to be bold and reach beyond ourselves and do what may seem impossible?”