Much changed in South Africa in a few days. The ANC flipflopped from wanting a “dignified” exit for Jacob Zuma to recalling him on Tuesday.
Zuma resigned the next day and Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in on Thursday. He delivered the state of the nation address on Friday.
While South Africans were still trying to get their heads around all the changes, they set a clear mandate for Ramaphosa.
These are the issues South Africa hoped Ramaphosa would address.
Party vs State
Opposition party Cope believed that Ramaphosa needed to take the country into its confidence and state unequivocally and without prevarication actions to separate party (ANC) from the state by committing to return South Africa to constitutionalism and rule of law.
“This includes him reassuring the nation that he shall never veer away from his oath of office as state president.”
Ramaphosa didn’t specifically mention this separation, but he did say that “we should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders ... We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.”
The economy was huge – Ramaphosa mentioned it 18 times in his speech.
PwC economists wanted him to address the strategies behind radical economic transformation, which remain opaque.
“Investor confidence will depend on having more information on how the economy would be transformed,” they said.
Cope believed he needed to instill confidence “in a restless nation, beyond the usual archaic ANC rhetoric, that the economy will grow to benefit all South Africans, not the connected few, thereby reducing the massive unemployment and demeaning poverty especially among the youth of our country.”
We will make a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy.
To this end, we will organise an Investment Conference in the next three months, targeting both domestic and international investors, to market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country.
Cope wanted Ramaphosa to immediately announce measures to drastically reduce the size of the bloated Zuma era cabinet, improve the performance of ministers and deputy ministers who must respect parliamentary accountability and the rule of law.
Ministers like Malusi Gigaba and others connected to the Gupta family must be summarily dismissed.
Ramaphosa didn’t mention Cabinet once in his speech. But he did say it was critical “that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources”.
He said a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments would be initiated.
PwC economists said that students and tertiary institutions needed more clarity over the phasing in of subsidised higher education over the next few years.
Ramaphosa repeated Zuma’s instruction that, starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350 000.
“The minister of higher education and training will lead the implementation of this policy, while the minister of finance will clarify all aspects of the financing of the scheme during his budget speech next week.”
Ramaphosa’s “New Deal” planned for the creation of one million jobs over the next five years, with the manufacturing sector set to take the lead.
The president should elaborate on his plans for incentives, said PwC economists.
At the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth.
We are going to embark on a number of measures to address the unemployment challenge.
One of the initiatives will be to convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.
The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded.
We will expect this summit to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately.
Working in partnership with business, organised labour and community representatives, we are creating opportunities for young people to be exposed to the world of work through internships, apprenticeships, mentorship and entrepreneurship.
Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.
Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.
If we are to respond effectively to the needs of youth, it is essential that young people articulate their views and are able to engage with government at the highest level.
I will therefore be establishing a Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.
The stalemate between the Government and mining industry regarding the Mining Charter needs to be resolved, said PwC economists.
Mining is another area that has massive unrealised potential for growth and job creation.
We need to see mining as a sunrise industry.
With the revival in commodity prices, we are determined to work with mining companies, unions and communities to grow the sector, attract new investment, create jobs and set the industry on a new path of transformation and sustainability.
This year, we will intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.
PwC economists said the state of the nation address should reflect on progress regarding state-owned entities and further efforts.
Financially sound state-owned entities will reduce pressure on the fiscus and support economic growth going forward.
Many of our state-owned enterprises are experiencing severe financial, operation and governance challenges, which has impacted on the performance of the economy and placed pressure on the fiscus.
We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state-owned enterprises.
We will need to confront the reality that the challenges at some of our state enterprises are structural – that they do not have a sufficient revenue stream to fund their operational costs.
These enterprises cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties, and we will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding models and other measures.
We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.
This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.
The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption.
The commission of inquiry into state capture, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly.
The commission is critical in ensuring that the extent and nature of state capture is established, that confidence in public institutions is restored and that those responsible for any wrongdoing are identified.
The commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption.
We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity.
We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe there is someone who is prepared to pay it.
We will make sure that we deal with both in an effective manner.
Twitter user @Tripnometri said Ramaphosa needed to state “efficient ways of dealing/preventing HIV infection and drug addiction problems”.
Ramaphosa only mentioned drugs when he quoted Hugh Masekela’s song, Thuma Mina: “I wanna lend a hand; I wanna be there for the alcoholic; I wanna be there for the drug addict; I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse; I wanna lend a hand; Send me.”
But he said this year, the next critical steps would be taken to eliminate HIV from our midst.
“By scaling up our testing and treating campaign, we will initiate an additional two million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.”
Twitter user @Ambrose54887330 wanted Ramaphosa to talk about the declaration of land expropriation without compensation.
We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution.