- Mixed reactions to President’s speech
- Ramaphosa vows to weed out corruption
President Cyril Ramaphosa last night announced that he would be entering into performance agreements with his cabinet ministers in the coming days to ensure they deliver in their respective portfolios.
The contracts will assist in holding ministers to account for lack of progress in implementing government policies and programmes.
Ramaphosa said performance agreements will also be entered into with public servants in a bid to root out corruption and nepotism in the operations of government.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament in Cape Town last night, he highlighted that despite myriad challenges facing the country, many young people still pin their hopes on SA as a country abundant with possibilities of a better future.
A patient Ramaphosa finally got to address the nation after the sitting was summarily suspended following a heated one-hour exchange on the interpretation of the rules of the house amid a demand by the EFF that he fires public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
The EFF also wanted former President FW De Klerk to leave the sitting, accusing him of committing crimes against humanity during the apartheid era.
But the no-nonsense speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, would have neither of it, stressing De Klerk was there by virtue of the rules of the house applying to former heads of state in the country.
On the EFF calls seeking Ramaphosa to fire Gordhan, Modise explained that the joint sitting was called for one purpose only – to afford the President a chance to address the nation.
Modise advised the EFF to table a motion against Gordhan if they wish to see him gone rather than use the ‘wrong platform” to make their call.
The ‘unruly’ EFF MPs, including Commander in Chief Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu finally left the chambers without being escorted by the Seargent of arms after Modise indicated she would no longer be entertaining their ‘point of orders’.
In a highly spirited address, Ramaphosa committed to introduce far reaching measures in dealing with the scourge of gender-based violence against the fairer sex, including stringent bail conditions and naming and shaming sex offenders by including their names in the national register for offenders.
To fight youth and women unemployment, the National Youth Development Agency would as a matter of urgency help with the grooming of 1 000 entrepreneurs that will be incubated and monitored to ensure their establishments flourish.
A total of R10 billion has been set aside for this purpose and finance minister Tito Mboweni would work on the nitty-gritty aspects of how the process will unfold.
Ramaphosa said investment commitments to the tune of R664 billion would be availed to create new jobs and help to sustain current ones by encouraging South Africans to buy locally-manufactured goods.
He added the textile and manufacturing sector is expected to create 121 000 jobs supported by government through curbing illegal trade in fake imports.
He also announced plans to equip young people with skills needed by the job market through creating short courses for them which will speed up their employability prospects.
In response to Ramaphosa speech, African Christian Democratic Party leader Dr Kenneth Meshoe praised the President for speaking out on helping ailing municipalities.
“We appreciate the announcement that municipalities will now be able to source energy directly from Independent Power Producers, something that was not the case in the past. But we are also worried the President did not dwell much on crime as another impediment against investments coming our way,” noted Meshoe.
The ANC’s Ibrahim Patel said the President’s speech speaks of the need to open new markets for new entrants, adding that the Africa Free Trade Initiative was relevant in achieving this end.
“From the 1st of July there will be free trade happening on the continent and we hope this will do well in rejuvenating the continent’s economy,” he noted.
The Black Business Council said Ramaphosa’s speech carried many positives and negatives, and these include prioritising women empowerment through access to markets while the negatives have to do with Eskom load shedding challenges.
“Even though we know that load-shedding is bad, it is however better if business knows that it will be here for the next 18 months beforehand so that proper planning can be done to avert losses incurred as a result of abrupt power cuts,” said the council.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, reacted to President Ramaphosa’s calls for improved sanitation by committing her department to eradicating the entire bucket system in the country in the next six months.
Through extensive research her department had come across cheaper technology called ‘brown sanitation’ which does not utilise any water.
Sisulu said this was an international trend hailed for its two-pronged benefits in improving sanitation and turning waste into energy.
The President’s speech will be debated next week by political parties in the national assembly.