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VIDEO | Matric 2020 results announcement
22 February 2021, 3:22 PM

The Department of Basic Education released the results for the 2020 matric exams earlier on Monday. It was a year the Department was riddled with many hardships including dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted classes for learners, leaked paper scandals, rewriting legal battle and hick-ups during the marking phase.

Proceedings below:

 

 

VIDEO | President Ramaphosa responds to SONA Debate questions
18 February 2021, 2:20 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa answered questions from the debate stemming from his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Ramaphosa delivered his 2021 SONA last week Thursday amid economic difficulties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Proceedings below:

VIDEO | SONA 2021 Build-up
11 February 2021, 4:21 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his 5th State of the Nation Address at 19h00 on Thursday. This will be a different address as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic factors.

Here is the build-up to SONA: 

2021 SONA comes after biggest suffering since apartheid: Mashaba
10 February 2021, 10:00 AM

By Herman Mashaba

This year’s SONA will be delivered in the face of the greatest suffering we have seen since the end of apartheid.

Over the past year, tens of thousands of lives have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of livelihoods destroyed. The pandemic has pushed our society to its limits, more importantly, it has exposed the worst of our government. Yet, South Africans remain a hopeful and resilient people, but who are tired of empty promises and many more broken ones.

To counter a healthcare system that was already producing horror stories of child births in the corridors and deaths in the waiting rooms, government instituted lockdown restrictions to increase the capacity in our healthcare system. To hire more medical professionals, increase bed capacity, oxygen tanks and ventilators. But this was not to be. While we were in lockdown, businesses closing and over 2.8 million jobs lost, the ANC government failed to honour these sacrifices. Instead, our people continue to suffer, and ANC cadres continue looting and getting rich.

While our government was focussing on alcohol, cigarettes and open-toed shoes, other governments were getting in line ahead of us to procure the vaccine. COVID-19 offers yet another opportunity to put into even sharper focus what we already knew: that our country cannot succeed if the ANC remains in power.

We cannot afford more rhetoric that does not present a plan to see our country make progress once again. Today I speak to the majority of South Africans to say what you need to hear the most but will not hear during the SONA.

Despite all the negativity, corruption, and the challenges we face, we CAN and MUST build an inclusive, and more prosperous South Africa. Hope is not lost.

I do not say this lightly, or without reason and resolve.

The first order of business is that we need to beat COVID-19. 

We need to procure enough doses of the vaccine, manage its distribution effectively, and vaccinate enough of our people. Until then, we will be subjected to a 3rd, a 4th and probably a 5th wave of infections further overwhelming our health facilities and cause many preventable deaths. We need real leadership to dismiss false information about the vaccine and tell South Africans the truth.

South Africans want an inclusive, prosperous, and shared future.

ActionSA asked South Africans to come forward and share their vision for the kind of country they want to live in. In reading their many responses I am reminded of people of all races, men, women, young, old, regardless of religious, or sexual orientation – most of us want to build a prosperous South Africa, where every citizen is valued.

Like Myburgh le Roux, Solly Ahmed, Sagalo Boitumelo, and Aphane Porlaido who want to live in a country healed from its past, in a more equal, safer, and corruption-free society full of opportunity not just on paper, but also a lived reality of all South Africans.

Why then, if so many of us share this vision for our country, do we live without it being realised?

It is because for South Africa to succeed, the ANC must be out of government. It is just that simple. The project to fix South Africa is not only about our colonial and apartheid past, it must also reverse the damage of the last 27 years of ANC government.

We CAN get South Africa working and move our country forward.

The next part of our plan is to fix the economy.

First, government’s budget must be cut to the bone. It must start with the President showing leadership, reduce his cabinet, and every government department. All the ridiculous non-essentials must be cut, and more funds redirected to providing economic relief and tax cuts to citizens and their businesses. Unprofitable and unstainable SOEs must either turnaround or go. We cannot continue rescuing financial blackholes like SAA.

Labour laws must be relaxed to make it easier for businesses to hire the unemployed. We are approaching the day where there are more unemployed South Africans can those with jobs. We cannot continue to placate labour unions at the expense of the unemployed.

Business skills must be taught at schools, FET colleges and vocational schools need to mushroom, and government must make it easy for small businesses to establish and grow.

We must remove the ANC from as many municipalities as possible.

There is no better place to start than in our cities and towns. I know this because I had the privilege to serve as the Mayor of Johannesburg.

I know what it means to run a coalition because, like it or not, coalitions are the future of South African politics. I know that it is possible to take billions of Rands from government luxuries to instead fix our roads and electrify informal settlements. To take abandoned buildings used by criminal syndicates and offer them to the private sector to build world-class affordable accommodation.

To expand our metro policing abilities so they can become a real force to fight crime and put in place anti-corruption units that pursue the corrupt. I know all of this to be possible because, along with 7 other parties, we implemented these changes in Johannesburg in just 3 years.

We redirected over R2 billion from international travel, self-promoting advertising, conferences and the like and increased the budgets to fix Johannesburg’s broken infrastructure.

We responded to the Maziko family in the Princess informal settlement, whose family suffered from respiratory illnesses, and extended the clinic hours of City Clinics throughout Johannesburg. And to a Soweto family, whose son was an addict, and built the first city-operated drug rehabilitation clinics.

We re-surfaced over 900kms of broken roads; built the biggest electricity sub-station in the southern hemisphere; distributed nearly 8000 title and afforded them the dignity that comes with owning their own home. We increased facilitated investment into the City from R4.5 billion to R17.3 billion and initiated the biggest inner-city rejuvenation in modern South Africa.

Small business owners were supported, and artisan training saw young tilers, plumbers, electricians, and bricklayers graduating.

If one truth can emerge from this year’s SONA, let it be to get South Africa working. For South Africans to realise that they are the solution and not parliament, but us.

We must believe that our country can be fixed. We must come together in our hundreds; thousands; and millions and start the hard work of getting South Africa working.

Mashaba is President of Action SA – This piece is an extract of his speech delivered ahead of the 2021 State of the Nation Address. A copy of the full speech can be accessed at www.actionsa.org.za.

 

‘Ramaphosa must now put system and processes in place to execute plans’
9 February 2021, 1:10 PM
By Bonang Mohale
The State of the Nation Address (SONA), ordinarily happens at the annual opening of Parliament and is an address to the nation by the President of the Republic of South Africa. The President addresses a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament, the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
It focuses on the current political and socio-economic state of the nation. It is a constitutional obligation and yearly tradition, wherein the chief executive reports on the status of the country, unveils the government’s agenda for the coming year, and proposes to Parliament certain legislative measures.
An order of magnitude review of the President’s fourth SONA (07 February 2019; 20 June 2019 and 19 February 2019) on 13 February 2020, wherein both His Excellency’s remarks and closing comments, emphasized the arrival of The New Dawn (Unity  Renewal and Reconstruction), underscored by the urgent need to reinvigorate the economy, transformation, regional and continental integration and proximity to all social partners.
He reiterated the SONA seven Priorities and five Goals, viz. emphasizing both the scarcity and complexity of capital allocation; the need for localisation and beneficiation; to increase both business confidence and investor sentiment; to restore credibility and improve governance and integrity; to ensure guaranteed access; Africa Free Trade Agreement to increase the size of the market in the continent in order to be globally competitive; need for clean, effective and transparent government; the notion of an ‘entrepreneurial state’; the ease of doing business; the four focus industries being agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and ICT – the prohibitive connectivity costs and the urgency of releasing spectrum; that South Africa is open for business;
 
He was quite honest about the effects of state capture and corruption; the fact that ‘mistakes were made and missteps taken’ in the past nine years! Some of the challenges being immigration; Visas; energy and Eskom as the single biggest contingent liability; etc. On the issue of land and due to a very small margin of error allowed in implementing such emotive corrective measures as ‘Land Expropriation without Compensation’, the President’s message was loud and clear that this is NOT Venezuela’s nor Zimbabwe’s poorly managed ‘land grab’.
The intent is precisely to increase clarity, provide regulatory certainty and enhance policy stability. He reiterated the fact that this is already more than catered for in our current Constitution under Section 25, sub-section 3 that deals with the ‘property rights’. That, in the public interest, when the conditions of ‘just, fair and equitable’ have been adequately fulfilled, the provision does currently exist for ‘compensation to go down to ZERO’. The Constitution is clear on the three principles of land restitution, redistribution and development. The President must send a clear, crisp, concise and precise strategic message that South Africa is not only open for business but, alas, have now put system and processes in place to execute!
He must be explicit about how are we going to roll out the vaccine, address the sub-investment grade status by all three rating agencies, claw our way out of the recession, overcome the still metastasising cancer of state capture and eradicate the legacy of apartheid.
Rating Agencies are looking for only 4 things, economic strength, fiscal strength, institutional strength and susceptibility to event risk. He must adequately and comprehensively provide palpable and demonstrable evidence of what exactly are we going to do, how are we going to do it, by when and who is going to be finally held accountable!
 
The political marching orders have been given at the conclusion of the 24 January ANC NEC Lekgotla in the five Priorities as to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic; economic reconstruction and recovery; the African agenda and building a better world; state capacity, local government and basic services and unity and renewal. In the wake of the unusually deadly times, untold damage that the coronavirus pandemic has continued to wreak on people’s lives, to their livelihoods and society, the world has already experienced more than 103 million confirmed cases and 2, 2 million deaths! Here at home, more than 1, 5 million cases and 44 thousand deaths.
Comparing ourselves with our BRICS  counterparts in terms of ‘vaccine doses administered’ on the 27 January, Brazil was on 579 thousand; Russia on 800 thousand; India on 2 million and China on 15  million. We only took delivery of ours on Monday, 01 February.
The President has set us a ‘herd immunity’ target of 67  percent in 2021. This represents about 40 million people that must be vaccinated at a rate of about 100 thousand per day! The total cost could be R2 billion to R18 billion depending on the type of vaccine (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca or Moderna), dose (single – which dramatically improves compliance or double), foreign exchange, cargo insurance, imported or locally manufactured, etc.
 
The only chance we have of flawless and seamless execution of this mammoth task is, among others, working hand in glove with all the social partners, depending on the existing and already far more effective and efficient logistics of the private sector (inventory management systems, warehouses, cold chain maintenance, freight, personnel), government central procurement, etc.
Based on our past performance of being incapable of execution and delivering on mega-projects in full, on time and on budget, AND that we are about 1.6 million doses short, we will probably only reach the 40 million target in the middle of next year with a real probability of being buffeted by the third wave in winter of 2021.
Considering that South Africa only had about 16.4 percent of the population on medical aid in 2018, this means a maximum liability to medical schemes of about R7 billion, representing about 2 percent of all premiums.
 
Unfortunately, the fiscal crisis is coming! It is practically impossible to keep on the current trajectory and momentum. What with South Africa’s debt at about R3 trillion, where we are borrowing at a rate of R2. 1 billion per day, debt to GDP ratio of 93 percent and when we include government guarantees to SoE/Cs, it is 110 percent! Our debt servicing costs are now R20 billion, our deficit is sitting at 16 percent. We are forecasting a less than 3 percent GDP growth in 2021 and only in 2024 will we reach the 2019 GDP growth level.
It will take us 9 to 10 years to get back to pre-Covid-19 employment levels. Real GDP growth is expected to be minus 7 percent in 2020, tax revenue projections at about minus 18% (currently tracking better than expected moving our projected revenue deficit from about R313 billion to R240  billion- R280 billion), implied tax buoyancy rate averaging 1. 47, non-interest expenditure with cumulative cuts of R300 billion, poor educational outcomes and unemployment rate of about 40  percent (excluding people who have given up looking or cannot, especially in the last ten months of national lockdown)! South Africa now has more downside risks than upside opportunities. It is now behind the curve in so many ways, it is now beginning to squash ‘the human spirit’!
 
Business has been consistent in what needs to be done. The government has great intentions but woefully inadequate execution mainly due to purposefully hollowed out capacity, reduced capability, poor coordination and lack of prioritisation.
To address the lowest levels of confidence, trust and hope since the Second World War, we must send some top state capture miscreants to prison; secure vaccines as a matter of life and death; execute on the long-promised deep systemic socio-economic reforms; reduce the soaring government debt (increased interest payments absorb an ever-rising share of tax revenue thereby leaving less available to buy vaccines, build hospitals, clinics, schools, houses, etc.); fix the more than 740 SoE/Cs; increase our infrastructure spend; execute on the ten-year-old spectrum auction as it is now underwhelming when South Africa says it is going to do anything;  focus on GDP growth; with more than 10 million people unemployed, we must urgently create jobs in large numbers for outsized and oversized impact and fix the quality of our educational system.
At this rate, our SACU trading partners, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini will soon have 6G whilst we are still fiddling with 4G! Austerity must be taken much more seriously.
 
Bonang Mohale is the Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics, Chairman of both The Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services. He is the past President of the BMF and author of the best selling book, “Lift As You Rise“.

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