2019 State of the Nation Address saw President Ramaphosa deliver this annual speech relatively smoothly, without any of the interruptions that the South African audience has become accustomed to. While leaving many confused about whether or not he shed any light about where the country will be heading over the next year with others saying it sounded more like an African National Congress bid for votes.
Being one of the most important dates on the calendar, SONA represents the opening of parliament and provides a platform for the president to communicate the future intentions towards making the country great. Ramaphosa opened with a touch of humour as he began addressing the nation and then swiftly moved on to serious business. He wasted no time in letting people know all the progress he’s made since taking office a year ago.
Keeping in mind that the he inherited a country in a seriously dire state, it’s difficult to ignore the strides ha has taken to rebuild the country. Committing to his promise to make South Africa better, he stayed focused on attracting investment in the country. Even though happy with improvements made in that regard, Ramaphosa admits that he needs to work hard to keep investors believing in South Africa. “Over the past year, we have focused our efforts on accelerating inclusive growth, significantly increasing levels of investment and putting in place measures to create more jobs,” the president said.
Keeping in line with the theme, the president addressed the condition of the small business sector. He brought to attention all the efforts and successes made during the last year. Acknowledging that it is not nearly as close as where it needs to be, he reminded entrepreneurs that his government remains committed to making it easier for this sector to grow.
Saying that the government has already began the process to revamp and stabilising industrial parks around the country. This is said to stimulate job creation. Ramaphosa said the Investment Conference attracted around R300 billion in investment pledges from local and international companies.
The signing into law of the Competition Amendment Bill will provide immense opportunities for entrepreneurs and assist small businesses compete with big players. Focus will be generated to the import, export and service sectors. The president went on to mention that efforts will be made to intensify the “buy South Africa” programme. Going forward, he said that he would like to expand the small business incubation programme. “As part of the expansion of this programme, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four provinces, with more to follow,” stated Ramaphosa. Through on going summits and investor conferences, the president outlined unique strategies to grow the economy, especially to improve the lives of the previously disadvantaged.
Key sectors to benefit from future investment are agriculture, tourism, the ocean economy, including the manufacturing and retail industries. Committing to ensure growth in the agricultural sector, Ramaphosa said, “We will continue to prioritise targeted skills development and capacity building programme for smallholder and emerging black farmers.” With diplomatic relationships between South African and China and India, the tourism sector could do better with more investment.
Touching on major issues affecting South Africa at this time, the president encouraged the nation to work together to improve investor confidence from around the world. Ramaphosa reassured investors that those implicated in the state capture inquiry are certain to face the strong arm of the law. “Where there is bases to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds must be returned urgently,” Ramaphosa said. He also promise to build and improve output in regard to state owned entities. Foundation phase schooling is set to undergo dynamic changes as learners will be expected to complete two years of early childhood development for all children before entering grade one.
Focusing on all the aspects of society, Ramaphosa went into great detail outlining the plans going forward. He came up with direct solutions to some of the problems facing society today, the question now is, if he made the right noises. This being an election year, he has the task of leading as the president and securing voter confidence to keep the ANC in power. Looking ahead to the next SONA, the nation expects to hear just exactly how the next president plans to get South Africa functioning as a well-oiled machine.