PARLIAMENT - President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his anticipated State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Cape Town on Friday night.
The speech contained many commitments, some definite and others vague. Here is a summary of the actions he promised to take.
Ramaphosa indicated he would be forming seven special committees to deal specifically with various issues:
- A presidential economic advisory council will draw on the expertise and capabilities in labour, business, civil society and academia.
- An infrastructure team will speed up implementation of new projects, particularly water projects, health facilities and road maintenance.
- A youth working group.
- A digital industrial revolution commission.
- A commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance of the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
- The commission of inquiry into state capture to commence its work shortly; it should not displace the regular work of the law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption.
The president committed to three summits within the year: a jobs summit, an investment conference and a social sector summit.
Hiring and firing:
Ramaphosa hinted that some people would be removed from their positions in the government and promised to create more employment opportunities for others.
The president committed to placing unemployed youth in paid internships and said a million internships would be created in the next three years.
He promised to stimulate the manufacturing sector using incentives, and institute a localisation programme for products designated for local manufacturing, such as clothing, furniture, water meters etc, via public procurement interventions.
The president promised to take action to ensure no person in the government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court. He made strong statements against corruption.
Ramaphosa said he would urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.
The funding model of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would be reviewed and the way that their boards are appointed would be changed to remove board members from any role in procurement
The president committed to pass and begin implementation of four pieces of legislation: the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill, expropriation of land without compensation, a national minimum wage, and a National Health Insurance Bill.
Ramaphosa said the government would intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter.
He made commitments to accelerate the land redistribution programme and make more land available. Expropriate land without compensation, would take into account food security, agricultural production and growth of the sector.
The president promised to introduce the National Minimum Wage Bill by 1 May, benefiting more than 6 million South Africans.
The NHI Bill was ready to be processed through government and would be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks, he said.
Another big commitment to watch is the promise to implement free higher education and training for first-year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000.