Mixed reactions to SONA

Cyril Ramaphosa
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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) amid the Eskom crisis, high unemployment and an ailing economy. Ramaphosa delivered the SONA in Parliament on Thursday evening. The speech, delayed for over an hour due to disruption from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), invoked different reactions from political parties and other organisations.

The UDM in Parliament says while it welcomes Ramaphosa’s SONA speech, it did not adequately deal with the challenge of addressing youth unemployment.

UDM Member of Parliament Nqabayomzi Nkwankwa says the President’s speech seemed to be lacking in detail on how government will reduce youth unemployment.

The FF Plus says the bulk of Ramaphosa’s speech was characterised by “cosmetic announcements” without tangible solutions to the country’s problems. Party leader Pieter Groenwald says the issues that the speech has highlighted such as the expropriation of land without compensation will cause more harm to the country’s economic growth than good.

“The other announcements are actual cosmetics. He can refer to the youth and everything, but we don’t get that economic growth. He is not going to create jobs. He is still continuing with the NHI, he is still continuing of land expropriation without compensation. Those are matters that are going to be detrimental for the economic growth. As far as Eskom is concerned, the only positive thing, there is private power producers that will be able to produce the electricity and the municipalities will be allowed to buy from them.”

Groenewald says Ramaphosa’s speech had both positive and negative elements.


Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he is happy that the President has acknowledged the need for more funding for institutions of higher leanings to deal with a lack of students’ accommodation. Nzimande says the problem requires all role players including the government to come on board.

COSATU says it welcomes Ramaphosa statement on efforts to save Eskom as long as it does not affect the jobs of workers at the power utility. COSATU president Zingiswa Losi says they will not allow job losses as a result of unbundling.

“We said these are three principle issues. We are not going to allow job losses as a result of unbundling. We don’t want huge tarrifs of electricity for the poorest of the poor in our country. Thirdly, we said no privatisatisation to Eskom. If government can say to us those three issues are not going to take place particularly right now, we are working how we are going to save Eskom. We think that if we are going to get those three principles at least when we are dealing with issues of unbundling, we don’t we should fear.”

The ACDP has described as good news the President’s announcement that independent power producers will sell electricity to municipalities directly so that more energy is produced rather than depending on Eskom alone. Party leader the Reverend Kenneth Moshoe says the announcement is good for economic growth.

“So now that they can bypass Eskom and have a reliable power source, it’s good news for business in South Africa. And we are hoping that not very long, all municipalities will have that direct access which is going to ensure that even the prices of Eskom comes down because competition is always good and is always necessary for the economy.”

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says Ramaphosa focused on issues that will help to stimulate the struggling economy and create jobs.

“The focus of the address is about science and technology, skills revolution; it’s about young people who constitute the majority of the population of South Africa. It is so important and the President has actually emphasised those things; building universities, a university of crime and detection in Hammanskraal, university of science and technology.” – Additional reporting by Abongwe Kobokana.