Cape Town – After less than a year in the job, President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to deliver the 2019 state-of-the-nation address (SONA) on Thursday and South Africans are expecting more than just the promise of a "new dawn" – a recurrent theme during his maiden speech.
Ramaphosa stayed true to his focus on economy during his 2018 SONA, convening a jobs summit which culminated in an agreement to create 275 000 jobs per year, and an investment summit which saw pledges totalling R290 billion in investments in South Africa in the latter half of that year.
In 2019, with elections three months away, the president and his administration now face the real test in how these pledges will be translated into real opportunities for South Africans.
The past year also marked the setting up of several commissions of inquiry that continues to unearth evidence of the extent of the rot in government, its state-owned companies and institutions. Shocking revelations by key players in the corruption that has plagued the State and its institutions have laid bare how the politically connected have used their influence to go on a looting spree which has had a dire effect on the public purse, already under pressure.
Those in opposition benches will be looking to the president to expand on his relationship with Bosasa, the company which according to testimony at the state capture inquiry gained billions of rand due to its corrupt relationship with politicians and government officials. It emerged last year that the company donated R500 000 to Ramaphosa’s campaign ahead of his election as ANC president.
Added to this is the dire position many strategic state-owned companies find themselves in, with many still holding their hands out for a bailout after their financial performance steadily declined after years of mismanagement and state capture. Despite the promised changes in boards, the instability at management and board levels coupled with the weak financial positions of many SOEs remains a major threat to South Africa’s economy.
Ramaphosa will have to address this, building on his undertaking to clean up the mess and announcing plans to improve the credibility, management, and contribution of SOEs to future South African prosperity.
The president will also have to reflect on the 25th year of democracy – how much and little government has contributed to the lives of South Africans since the fall of apartheid, and what is needed in the years ahead.
African News Agency (ANA)