Superpowered Sona

2020-02-14 09:27
President Cyril Ramaphosa waits for the EFF disruption to end before deilivering a high-powered State of the Nation Address in Parliament last night.

President Cyril Ramaphosa waits for the EFF disruption to end before deilivering a high-powered State of the Nation Address in Parliament last night.

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Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a high-powered State of the Nation Address (Sona) to blow away EFF disruptions to announce major steps to resolve the energy and jobs crises, among other things.

Tabling his fourth Sona in Parliament, which was delayed by EFF disruptions, Ramaphosa said his government was now ready to build on the foundation that it had been laying over the past months.

“Together, over these last two years, we have worked to stabilise our economy and build a foundation for growth,” he said. 

The government, Ramaphosa said, has started to roll out a number of infrastructure programmes aimed at boosting the economy while at the same time creating much-needed jobs.

“The Infrastructure Fund implementation team has finalised the list of shovel-ready projects and has begun work to expand private investment into public infrastructure sectors with revenue streams.

“These include areas like student accommodation, social housing, independent water production, rail freight branch lines, embedded electricity generation, municipal bulk infrastructure, and broadband roll-out.”

The projects are predicted to attract over R700 billion in investment over the next 10 years.

The infrastructure programmes will run parallel with massive housing projects that will see government and the private sector pumping in billions of rands. “The social housing programme to build rental housing for low-income families is at implementation stage, which could leverage as much as R9 billion of private investment in the construction of 37 000 rental apartments,” he said.

Government has also identified student accommodation as another area for investment. “The young people who are at university and TVET colleges face serious accommodation challenges.

“Some don’t even have places to sleep after lectures and resort to sleeping in libraries. We are going to spend R64 billion over the next years in student accommodation and [we] will leverage at least another R64 billion in private investment,” Ramaphosa said.

Billions of rands will also be invested in the construction of colleges around the country, including at Greytown.

On state-owned entities, Ramaphosa said the process to restructure them and make them sustainable would be intensified in the coming months.

While power outages were likely to continue for the forseeable future, Ramaphosa assured citizens that the matter of power generation was receiving high priority.

“A Section 34 Ministerial Determination will be issued shortly to give effect to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, enabling the development of additional grid capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal. We will initiate the procurement of emergency power from projects that can deliver electricity into the grid within three to 12 months from approval,” he said.

Durban port will also see major investment in a “fundamental overhaul” to reduce delays and costs.

On gender-based violence, Ramaphosa said the law will soon be amended to make it difficult for men who abuse women to get off lightly.

“We will amend the Domestic Violence Act to better protect victims in violent domestic relationships and the Sexual Offences Act to broaden the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders, and we will pass a law to tighten bail and sentencing condition in cases that involve gender-based violence,” he said.

Ramphosa’s speech, which was scheduled to be delivered from 7 pm last night, was delayed by almost two hours due to disruptions by EFF Members of Parliament.

The EFF, who were demanding that former president F.W. de Klerk and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan be removed from the House, eventually staged a walkout after their demands had been repeatedly rejected by Speaker Thandi Modise.

Ramaphosa rounded up his speech by paying tribute to Ladysmith Black Mambazo group founder Joseph Shabalala: “As we do so, we will recall the inspired lyrics of one of South Africa’s most treasured musicians, uBab’ Joseph Shabalala, the founder of Lady­smith Black Mambazo, whose passing we mourn this week.

“Written in a different era, his words still ring true:

“We may face high mountains,

Must cross rough seas,

We must take our place in history,

And live with dignity,

As we climb to reach our destiny

A new age has begun.”

Key points

• The roll out of an infrastructure programme projected to attract over R700 billion in investment over the next 10 years.

• Training and job opportunities for unemployed youth.

• The introduction of more independent power producers to help Eskom cope with the demand for power.

• Billions of rands to be spent on the construction of student accommodation facilities and the building of new colleges.

• Billions of rands to be spent on the construction of low-cost housing and rental accommodation facilities.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  sona 2020

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