BITTER-SWEET is how best to describe President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening.
Yes, there were good points made and achievements attained but most of it all, the country is not pleased, particularly opposition parties. After-all its their job to oppose -that’s why they’re in Parliament as elected by their respective Constituents.
Ramaphosa presented the government’s point-plans, including the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, economic recovery, corruption and load-shedding.
For many, the President has been credited for extending the R350 grant for another three-months, a call welcomed by ANC’s alliance Cosatu, SACP and other social partners at Nedlac.
“We have therefore decided to extend the period for the special Covid-19 grant of R350 by a further three months. This has proven to be an effective and efficient short-term measure to reduce the immediate impact on the livelihoods of poor South Africans,” said the President in his address attended by few members of Parliament, the Judicial headhonchos, former Pres Thabi Mbeki and others.
“We have also decided to extend the Covid-19 TERS [Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme] benefit until March 15 2021, only for those sectors that have not been able to operate. The conditions of this extension and the sectors to be included will be announced after consultations with social partners at Nedlac.
“The National Treasury will work with its partners and stakeholders on improvements to the loan guarantee scheme so that it better addresses the realities of SMMEs and other businesses as they strive to recover.
“We will work with our social partners to ensure that these and other interventions provide relief to those who most need it,” said Ramaphosa.
But the Economic Freedom Front says there isn’t anything knew in Ramaphosa’s speech- it’s like a tired record that plays continuously.
“There is nothing different that he has said and hasn’t been said before and that amounts to insanity because insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu said in an interview with SABC News.
Shivambu further said that Ramaphosa’s address didn’t point to anything which would essentially help bring South Africans out of poverty and accusing him of not giving an accurate account of how things are.
DA’s leader John Steenhuisen said this year’s Sona did not reflect the reality – that the country is in deep trouble, as a result of the pandemic and the economy.
“We’re a bus accelerating toward a cliff. People are suffering terribly and much more suffering is on the horizon. Lives are at stake. The situation is truly urgent,” Steenhuisen said.
“We needed to hear the practical steps that are being taken to roll out vaccines, get our economy growing, and restore the political accountability that is essential in a democracy. Yet, President Ramaphosa remains a spectator president looking on with dismay as if he has no personal agency to alter the tragic course of events unfolding in our beloved country”
Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa’s address failed to focus on three crises (the economy, democracy and COVID-19).
“These three central crises will not be resolved. The South African bus will continue accelerating toward the cliff. The unnecessary suffering will continue and worsen.
Youth unemployment will grow even higher than 70%. Our debt will grow. Cities will crumble. Shops will shutter. Inequality will widen. Our democratic protections will continue to erode. ANC cronies will grow fatter. Instead of a new dawn we have old nightmares,” he said.
On vaccines the President reiterated that the international company J&J will deliver over 1mllion vaccines very soon, and other partners will come on board.
The constant load-shedding was not effectively addressed but Ramaphosa says IPPs must be fast tracked to ease pressure from Eskom. How, when and where remains to be seen?
Albeit its before court, the President also confirmed moving from analogue to digital will be effected as early as April.
Ramaphosa said: “Just as a harsh fire gives new life to our country’s fynbos, this crisis is an opportunity to build a different, better South Africa…
“At least once every twenty years, fynbos must burn at extremely high temperatures to allow the ecosystem to be rejuvenated and grow afresh…
“Like a wildfire that sweeps across the mountainous ranges where the fynbos grows, a deadly pandemic has swept across the world, leaving devastation in its path.
“And yet, like the hardy fynbos of our native land, we too have proven to be resilient in many ways.
Image (Pres Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa likened what SA is going through as a fynbos). Oh don’t mind the tag on his suit, apparently it was made by a local designer).