ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “bold plans” of creating a new city and launching a bullet train were achievable and it was time to implement them.
“What he is saying is that let us be bold moving into the future,” said Mashatile, who also described Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address on Thursday night as a call for ordinary South Africans to partner with the government and dream big.
“Let’s try and plan things that people may see as impossible. So, we welcome that as the ANC. We think this is a great and comprehensive speech focusing on things that are doable. The plans are there, so let us go out and implement. It is not difficult to build a new city. Let’s start doing it and within the next 10 years you would have it.”
He said that finding land to build the new city would not be a problem because the government owned vast tracts of land.
“The government has lots of land. If we need land, so, the land is there. The president wants South Africans to come forward. It means ordinary people have an opportunity to join this great plan. We are happy and fully behind the plan.”
Mashatile also said Ramaphosa had his priorities right: “Fix Eskom, fix the economy and create jobs for young people.”
‘Just a wishlist’
However, DA leader Mmusi Maimane was not impressed.
“The speech was a complete wishlist of things that he said before. More rhetoric and really no substance. No bold and decisive plans. He simply affirmed the things that are in the Constitution.”
We all want education to work, but what are the plans, asked Maimane, adding that the government should first “stand up” to trade union Sadtu if education was to be turned around.
He said Ramaphosa was also expected to stand up to his own party.
“Is he going to stand up to his own party that wants to nationalise the Reserve Bank? Is he going to reform Eskom? He has left the nation wondering.
“And so for many South Africans that would not have walked home knowing that there is a plan. 16 000 jobs per year is a crisis. Bold and decisive steps are needed.”
Maimane said unemployment was lower in areas where the DA governed “simply because we build a capable state. We allow our communities to not rely on the state”.
On jobs, he said, Ramaphosa should have focused on cities and we should have put jobs and a justice fund on the table that would stimulate micro enterprises.
“Scrap the visa amendment bill. Eradicate corruption by arresting the people who were the cause of corruption,” he said, adding that “that would have been bold”.
He also said Ramaphosa should have come out on the relationship of teachers with Sadtu and how to break the power of the union.
“Eskom is too big to fail. We should not only talk about a bailout but allow independent power producers to come on board. Let the private sector partner for infrastructure and give cheaper energy to South Africans.”
Instead, said Maimane, the president wanted to spend R230 billion, nearly a fifth of the budget, on one entity. And there were others.
“Why are we not announcing a plan to sell SAA? This is again a president who talks on high dream language, and fails to understand that South Africans are living in a different reality.”
‘He is daydreaming’
EFF leader Julius Malema agreed with Maimane: “It was not a speech. He said it himself that it was a dream. The guy was daydreaming.”
He said Ramaphosa spent the last three decades wanting to be president but he seemed clueless.
His achievement was just to become president, he said.
Ramaphosa has abandoned the national development plan and there is a new plan called dreams.
Malema added that last year the president talked about internships for young people, with the intention of creating 1 million jobs but “their own website says only 6000 have been created”.
“The national development plan says 11 million by 2030 and he comes here and says 2 million in 10 years. Which means 2 million jobs in 2029. So he has abandoned the national development plan and there is a new plan called dreams.
“The president does not have the privilege of dreaming. You and I could dream but not the president. Someone in that position must be a doer. The dreams were there in the 80s and before 94. All we do is to implement those dreams of those generations that fought for a democratic South Africa where all will have jobs and be equal. Where land will be in the hands of our people.”
He said Ramaphosa was no longer talking expropriation without compensation because “black people have given him the vote”.
“The past two speeches he spoke about it and the amendment of section 25. Today the elections are over and he is done and he does not care anymore. Black people were used and now it is done and it is back to normal.”
‘A nation of dreamers, not doers’
Malema said that the material conditions on the ground were not changing – unemployment, inequality and poverty were former president Thabo Mbeki’s priorities.
“[Ramaphosa] says today we must talk about those. He does not have his own priorities. He speaks about a new city and bullet train. Where and when? Should we just dream about it? When and by who? We are a nation of dreamers and not doers.”
Malema said the ANC was also underwhelmed by Ramaphosa’s speech.
“He did not even get applause from the ANC because he did not speak to its manifesto issues. They were all so demoralised because he said nothing and he abandoned the Nasrec resolutions.”
He said Ramaphosa would fail because “you cannot create an equal society without government owning strategic sectors of the economy, land expropriation and the state bank”.
If Ramaphosa was indeed inspired by China, “he must learn from China that strategic sectors in the economy are owned by the government of China.
“If China inspires him then he must learn from China. Everything he said, in terms of policy, is very far from what the Chinese are doing. The policies are the direct opposite.”
25 years into democracy we are yet to build even a railway line. We are still using apartheid railway lines. We are still in the cities of apartheid.
Malema said the new city would fail.
“Some 25 years into democracy we are yet to build even a railway line. We are still using apartheid railway lines. We are still in the cities of apartheid. There is nothing that the ANC has done to create a new city to connect at least southern Africa.”
When asked if he would accept a Cabinet position if offered one, Malema said he would “never accept” and “I’m refusing now”.
“I need to be there elected by the people and not through the back door,” he said.