OVERVIEW | Sellout, Scorpions and Eskom: 7 takeouts from Ramaphosa's #SONADebate reply

2019-02-14 16:55

Here are some key points made by President Cyril Ramaphosa in response to some of the questions raised during the debate on his State of the Nation Address.

Cyril Ramaphosa

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Last Updated at 19:13
14 Feb 17:04

The embattled Eskom dominated President Cyril Ramaphosa's reply in Parliament on Thursday following two days of debate on his State of the Nation Address. Here are some key points made by the president:

1. The president responded to claims by Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota that he was a sell-out during the 1970s. "I have never sold out anyone. I have never worked with the Apartheid state."

2. A special Cabinet committee led by Deputy President David Mabuza will closely look at the crisis at Eskom and provide daily reports on what actions need to be taken to secure energy supply.

3. Ramaphosa emphasised that the Scorpions, which was replaced by the Hawks under the first administration of Jacob Zuma, are not back. He clarified that the forming of a special investigating unit within the prosecuting directorate to focus on specific areas that need proper investigation that will lead to prosecution.

4. On wasting taxpayers money, the President noted that the Public Audit Amendment Act significantly empowers the Auditor-General to act more directly against those who squander and misappropriate public funds.

5. A promise of a more equitable distribution of health. Ramaphosa said once fully implemented, the NHI will through the principle of cross-subsidisation see  the young subsidise the old, the healthy subsidise the sick, and the rich subsidise the poor.

6. Ramaphosa hailed the EPWP-funded Working on Fire programme that battled the fires across the Cape mountain range. The EPWP provides income relief and skills training to young unemployed South Africans.

7. To build a sustainable low carbon economy, steps are being taken to finalise the national Climate Change Bill, which will provide a regulatory framework for the management of climate change and its impacts.

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14 Feb 16:09

As we conclude this debate, we should reflect on our individual and collective contributions to building a new, better society. As we conclude, we would do well to reflect on the words of the Nigerian author, Ben Okri, in his poem on a New Dream for Politics. He writes:

They say there is only one way for politics. That it looks with hard eyes at the hard world And shapes it with a ruler’s edge, Measuring what is possible against Acclaim, support, and votes.

They say there is only one way to dream For the people, to give them not what they need But food for their fears. We measure the deeds of politicians By their time in power.

We dream of a new politics That will renew the world Under their weary suspicious gaze. There’s always a new way, A better way that’s not been tried before.

I thank you

14 Feb 16:07
A land in which the noble values of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights are the canvas upon which we chart a new and glorious future – not just for ourselves, but for those yet to come. We will not fail you.

14 Feb 16:07
We are determined to rectify the mistakes of the past, improve the conditions of the present, and work with you, side by side, to make this, our South Africa, a land of prosperity for all.

14 Feb 16:07
To them, the people of South Africa, we say: it is your hopes and your expectations that we carry with us. We have felt your frustration, and we have heeded your calls for real change.

14 Feb 16:06
For the students, who have to take on extra jobs to finance their studies, and return home late and exhausted, but remain committed to finishing their education. It is upon these people that the future of this country depends.

14 Feb 16:06
For the young men and women of this country who have not yet found employment, but who still go out, CVs in hand, knocking on doors, making calls and sending emails.

14 Feb 16:06
For ordinary families, who struggle to make ends meet and to come up with ways to stretch their rands just that little bit further for homes, for school fees, and to put food on the table.

14 Feb 16:06
We equally share a responsibility to work together to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it. In these difficult and trying times, we share a responsibility to work together for the people of this country.

14 Feb 16:06
No matter how much and how enthusiastically we disagree ahead of the election, we equally share a responsibility to accept the popular mandate of the South African people.

14 Feb 16:05
As political parties and as leaders, we must desist from statements that demean or insult or offend other races, other languages, other religions or other groups.

14 Feb 16:05
However, no matter how robust the campaigning, we need to avoid utterances or actions that divide South Africans.

14 Feb 16:05
As in any healthy democracy, we should expect a fierce contestation between parties, between different perspectives and divergent presentations of reality.

14 Feb 16:05
This is the last debate on the State of the Nation Address in the term of the 5th democratic Parliament. In just under three months from now, South Africans will exercise the cherished right to vote that they won 25 years ago.

14 Feb 15:57

Solidarity needs to extend beyond our borders.Those who have been freed from the chains of oppression, those who live in conditions of liberty and democracy, have a responsibility to those who still struggle against occupation, discrimination and repression.

Our support for the struggle of the Palestinian people is not merely a product of history – it is a refusal to accept that a people should be continually denied the right of self-determination in violation of international law.

Next month, we will be hosting a SADC solidarity conference in support of the struggle of the Saharawi people against the colonial occupation of their territory.

14 Feb 15:54

Once fully implemented, the NHI will bring to life the spirit of human solidarity where – through the principle of cross-subsidisation – the young subsidise the old, the healthy subsidise the sick, and the rich subsidise the poor.

Given the urgency with which we must attend to the challenges in our healthcare system, we convened the first Presidential Health Summit in October last year and brought together key stakeholders from a wide range of constituencies in the sector.

We emerged from the Summit with very sound immediate, short term and medium term solutions to improve the effectiveness of the health system.

We had the opportunity – two days ago – to launch the report of the Summit which contains and elaborates on these solutions.

14 Feb 15:51

The National Health Insurance is an important area where social solidarity can be most effective.

Because of the dual nature of health care provision in South Africa, with huge disparities between private and public expenditure, and huge differences in health access,there is a strong social and economic argument for a more equitable distribution of health spending.

14 Feb 15:51

Companies that hold cash reserves have a powerful incentive – and an increasingly beneficial environment – to invest in productive activity that creates jobs and thereby expands local demand and promotes social stability.

We have a system of taxation that is premised on the principle of social solidarity – those who earn more should contribute proportionately more to the public purse.

As is evident over the last year, we are committed to strengthen this critical instrument for redistribution and are taking firm measures to reduce the potential for abuse – either through corruption or tax evasion.

14 Feb 15:49

We need, as several honourable members have said, to trim the fat, to reduce expenditure that is not essential to realise our priorities, to cut down on wastage and uncontrolled spending.

We are committed to getting value for our money through better systems, improved productivity and consequences for non-performance.

The Public Audit Amendment Act significantly empowers the Auditor-General to act more directly against those who squander and misappropriate public funds.

Progress requires social solidarity. Those who have benefited from the injustices of the past have a crucial role to play in ensuring they are redressed.

Those who have had the opportunity to accumulate assets, gain skills, and acquire or inherit networks have both a responsibility and a vested interest in using these capabilities to improve the lives of the poor.

14 Feb 15:48

I have constituted a Special Cabinet Committee on Eskom which will be led by the Deputy President consisting Minister of Public Enterprises, Energy, Finance, Transport, Intelligence and Police to be seized with the matter of Eskom on a daily basis and provide me with reports daily on what actions need to be taken to secure energy supply.

We are at a moment in our history where we need to make difficult choices. Public finances are constrained, our capacity to borrow is extremely limited. It is therefore necessary for us to prioritise, to make trade-offs.

14 Feb 15:44

While restructuring Eskom won’t solve the immediate electricity supply crisis, it will position the company to more effectively meet the country’s energy needs into the future.

It will improve the benchmarking of performance, increase transparency, decentralise management and allow better oversight of Eskom’s different functions.

It will enable funders to better assess risk and opportunity, and open space for new investment in the generation capacity we urgently need. Separating Eskom’s divisions into separate units will allow each entity to source funding on its own merits.

Ultimately the restructuring of Eskom is intended to ensure security of electricity of supply for the country, which is critical for investment, growth and jobs.

14 Feb 15:38
The teams assembled by the Presidency, Minister of Public Enterprises, and the Eskom Board need to prioritise the building up of adequate electricity generation safety margin to ensure the national grid is restored to state of robustness.

14 Feb 15:33

Operationally, Eskom’s plant age is on average above 37 years old and Eskom has seen some of the engineers that had been trained to maintain these legacy systems exit the business due to, in some instances underhanded leadership intervention to appoint individuals.

Some of these experienced technical professionals have been traced to other parts of the world and responding to the Thuma Mina call have indicated their willingness to come back home.

In the immediate term, we need to intervene aggressively to put the load shedding behind us.

14 Feb 15:31
The cost of procurement of different categories of commodities – the premiums commanded by suppliers – such as primary energy resources, replacement components for the generation units – has raised concerns with teams assembled to assist.

14 Feb 15:29
Eskom’s cost structure has anomalies that require urgent attention if the business is to be put on a sustainable path.

14 Feb 15:29

Eskom in its current form has a number of challenges that need to be addressed as part of the whole of Government effort: The unbundling of the business is starting to address the structural challenges.

Financially, the reference to cost cutting should be understood not to mean retrenchments. The preferred strategy in reducing human resources costs will be to offer voluntary packages to staff.

We further need to look at the benefits and perks received by Eskom staff including those offered through Eskom Finance Company (EFC).

We need to jointly ask ourselves whether it makes sense for Eskom to have this business unit and be offering to its staff below market rates finance packages, whose losses are ultimately underwritten by the State.

14 Feb 15:26

14 Feb 15:26

There are sound, valid and compelling reasons to separate Eskom into different entities. It is not a path to privatisation, as the honourable Malema will have us believe.

Restructuring will reduce the risk of a massive Eskom, that at times has in its current form, been termed too big to fail, placing government in a position where all its eggs are in one basket.

It will align Eskom with international electricity trends, where the vertically integrated electricity utilities have been broken up to enable better regulatory oversight through a single buyer model, increase competition in the generation and distribution space.

A unitary Eskom has proven to be difficult to lead. It has gone through a number of board and executive leadership iterations without trending towards a sustainable operational path.

14 Feb 15:23

The next weeks and months will be difficult as we effect the changes that need to be made.

It is our responsibility to ensure that throughout this process, we take the greatest care to minimise the negative impact on the most vulnerable in our society – the township and rural resident, the worker, the emerging farmer, the small business owner.

In tackling this urgent and serious matter, let us be cautious of reckless claims and political posturing.

14 Feb 15:23

Let us not give up on finding a solution and let us not give up on each other. Let us reject the false narrative that the only way out is through bitter confrontation and conflict.

Our challenges will be not be resolved in the streets, but we will gather around the table to find workable solutions.

As government, we understand the fears of workers about job losses at Eskom and in associated industries. We understand the concerns of lenders, investors and business owners. We will address them, directly and honestly.

14 Feb 15:20
None of us can abdicate our responsibility, nor can anyone be left out of the process. Where we disagree, let’s engage. Let us put the facts on the table, let us examine the evidence and let us find workable solutions.

14 Feb 15:19

As social partners, as stakeholders, as a country, we have a common interest in finding sustainable solutions to the crisis at Eskom.

We therefore have a collective responsibility, which extends beyond our immediate interests, to work together to fix Eskom.

14 Feb 15:18
The fundamental principle that must underpin our response to the Eskom crisis is that yes, it must be inclusive and it must be consultative.

14 Feb 15:17
One of the tasks that are essential to ensuring secure electricity supply is a dedicated and detailed focus on maintenance.

14 Feb 15:16

The leadership of the entity have already taken steps to cut costs to improve efficiency, but much more needs to be done and it needs to be done much more quickly.

14 Feb 15:14

14 Feb 15:14

14 Feb 15:14

14 Feb 15:14

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will detail measures in his budget speech next week that will be taken to assist Eskom to stabilise its finances.

It has become clear that Eskom needs to be assisted by the state so that it can stabilise.

This represents a significant commitment at a time when public finances are constrained. It must then be accompanied by a credible far-reaching turn around plan that has both immediate and lasting impact.

14 Feb 15:12

SA's electricity headache

The unprecedented failure of Eskom's generating capacity over the past few days underlines the severity of the challenges the company faces and the urgency of measures that are needed to address the problems.

For those who have doubted the extent of these challenges, this week's load shedding has provided a hugely damaging reality check. There is no single solution to the problems at Eskom.

Neither is restructuring or refinancing nor tariff increases nor better plant maintenance on their own will have the necessary effect.We need to pursue all of these simultaneously and in a coordinated way to turn the utility around.

The decision announced during SONA to establish three separate 100% state owned entities - for generation, for transmission and distribution respectively - has received the most attention.

14 Feb 15:10
Since the start of the fifth administration the EPWP has led to the creation of 3.2 million work opportunities at a total of 225 sites across all nine provinces.

14 Feb 15:08
It is with a great sense of pride that we were recently able to witness the teams of the EPWP funded Working on Fire programme battling the fires across the Cape mountain range.

14 Feb 15:07

It is part of our call and our commitment to clean South Africa, to make our cities, towns and rural areas places where it is safe and healthy for all to live.

Because of environmentally insensitive human action, the forces of nature conspired to set in motion the dramatic process of climate change.

Public employment programmes have contributed to enabling us to address the challenges of unemployment that many of our people face. Much as they do not provide permanent work they have provided meaningful work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

14 Feb 15:06

We will work with all stakeholders to ensure that our gradual transition towards new forms of electricity generation creates jobs, develops new capabilities and does not negatively affect the livelihoods of communities.

On the 8th of March, we will be launching a landmark campaign to mobilise all South Africans to become environmentally conscious. The Good Green Deeds programme is aimed at changing behaviour towards littering, towards illegal dumping, and towards waste in general.

14 Feb 15:05

Taking our lead from her vision, we continue to encourage investment in cleaner energy through the renewable energy independent power producers programme.

Through the competitive bidding process, South Africa has benefited from rapid, global technology developments and price trends, buying clean energy at lower and lower rates with every bid cycle.

Under the renewable energy, a total number of 112 projects have been procured and it is envisaged that these projects will create 114 266 job years over the construction and 20 year operations period.

14 Feb 15:04

We are making a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise green house gases through our Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

South Africa is due to be the next coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, which is vital in ensuring that Africa remains united and speaks with one voice on the key climate change issues facing the Continent.

The progress we have made in responding to the various environmental challenges that confront our people is in no small measure thanks to the leadership and dedication of the late minister of environmental affairs, Edna Molewa.

She worked to ensure that the conservation of the environment became a catalyst to advance the objectives of the National Development Plan.

14 Feb 15:00

We have ratified the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change as part of the global effort to dramatically reduce the rate of global warming.

As part of our efforts to build a sustainable low carbon economy, we are taking steps to finalise the national Climate Change Bill, which will provide a regulatory framework for the management of climate change and its impacts.

14 Feb 14:59
If we are a country that prioritises the interests of the poor and the vulnerable, then we need to act with greater urgency to respond to the effects of climate change and make our contribution to preventing it.

14 Feb 14:59

This should be accompanied by an integrated information system that is able to track performance against targets. Every state organ should be reporting substantively on the inclusion of people with disability within their respective mandates.

We are working with renewed energy and commitment to ensure that people with disabilities are a part of a cohesive society.

We are working to ensure that they have equitable access to education, health services, employment, social security and all the opportunities that come with living in a democracy.

14 Feb 14:57

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