President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, but this is his second since he was elected President after last year’s general elections.
It is widely expected that he will talk about how the government will stimulate the struggling economy, address matters around poor performing State-Owned Enterprises and job creation.
Several former Presidents of the country, except Jacob Zuma, are expected to attend the SONA at National Assembly.
As the nation awaits the address with bated breath, residents of the North West provincial capital Mahikeng say they expect President Ramaphosa to speak about tangible solutions to the country’s electricity and unemployment woes.
In Mahikeng, infrastructure development and load shedding are at the top of the agenda of what many people expect the President to talk about.
Unchanging unemployment figures have also got many people worried and calling for the President’s intervention.
“I expect Ramaphosa to talk about the creation of jobs, especially to our youth, those students who have graduated and are just sitting at home without jobs,” says one of the residents.
Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released the fourth quarter Labour Force Survey which revealed that unemployment remains at 29.1%.
The 2019 fourth-quarter unemployment figures show that nearly one in three South Africans do not have a job.
Of the 29% of those unemployed, nearly 60% are the youth.
Below is a graphic showing SA’s unemployment rate in 2019:
On Wednesday, President Ramaphosa spoke to young students and entrepreneurs about the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, about a plan to reduce the high levels of youth unemployment in the country. He says no country that is serious about its future can allow such prevalent joblessness.
As he puts the final touches to his speech, with input from a 17-year-old pupil, Ramaphosa says he will take the country into his confidence. South Africans are expecting clear direction and concrete plans to get the country on a growth path.
EFF’s SONA threat
Parliament says it will rely on its rules to ensure that the SONA does not descend into chaos. This follows threats by the EFF that it will disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech. The party is insisting that Ramaphosa fires Public Enterprise Minister, Pravin Gordhan, for allegedly misleading the President about the state of affairs at Eskom.
The EFF has said in a statement that it has become aware of a plan to get police officers into the National Assembly to violently eject EFF MPs, if necessary.
But Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, has called on individuals with proof of this to produce it.
Political parties have high expectations. They want the President to prioritise the economy, reform parastatals and address the electricity crisis.
Tight security is expected in and around the Parliamentary precinct ahead of the SONA. As in previous years, a large contingent of police has been deployed to the precinct.
Several roads in the CBD will also be closed from as early as 6 o’clock Thursday morning until midnight.