March 28, 2023

On Thursday night, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his seventh state-of-the-nation tackle because the nation grapples with a long-lasting power disaster and an financial system pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Africa’s second-largest financial system can also be dealing with a surge in residing prices and widespread unemployment.

With subsequent yr’s elections quick approaching, Ramaphosa on Thursday sought to painting himself because the solution-maker in a nation he stated was “outlined by hope and resilience”.

Listed here are 5 key takeaways from the speech delivered to Parliament in Cape City.

‘Extraordinary measures’ for power disaster

Ramaphosa declared a nationalstate of catastrophe” over crippling energy shortages that threaten the nation’s financial system and safety, investing the federal government with extra powers to signal emergency procurement procedures quicker and with much less oversight.

“Extraordinary circumstances name for extraordinary measures,” he stated.

The disaster dates again to 2008 however intensified final yr. And now, energy cuts of as much as 8 hours per day are affecting houses, factories and companies throughout the nation of 60 million.

The declaration will allow the federal government to purchase extra energy from neighboring nations on an emergency foundation and supply help to companies.

“With out a dependable provide of electrical energy, our efforts to develop an inclusive financial system that creates jobs and reduces poverty is not going to succeed,” Ramaphosa stated.

He additionally introduced that he would appoint a minister of electrical energy to focus solely on the disaster, in addition to loans and incentives to maneuver South Africa onto photo voltaic power.

Combating poverty and unemployment

Public anger has been mounting a couple of 33 p.c unemployment price, surging residing prices and the close to collapse of presidency providers in a variety of cities.

The South African president blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for worsening “deep unemployment”, because the nation misplaced two million jobs.

“The pandemic negatively affected livelihoods and elevated poverty,” he stated, whereas additionally claiming that about one and a half million new jobs had been created between the third quarter of 2021 and that of 2022.

His authorities will proceed to pay “restitute South Africans” the 350-rand ($19.60) social reduction grant at a time when “the rising value of residing is deepening poverty and inequality”, he stated.

“Via a strengthened and expanded social safety system, fewer individuals will dwell in poverty and fewer households will expertise starvation,” he stated.


Ramaphosa stated most South African municipalities – 163 out of 257 – had been discovered to be ineffective and generally corrupt, resulting in poor service supply.

“The federal government is implementing a variety of interventions to handle failures at native authorities stage and enhance primary service supply,” Ramaphosa stated.

“These embrace enhancing the capability of public representatives and officers, sustaining and upgrading native infrastructure, and invoking the powers of nationwide authorities to intervene the place municipalities fail to fulfill their tasks.”

He added that “integrity assessments” will turn out to be a compulsory requirement for recruitment to the general public service and entry exams might be launched.

“We’re amending laws and strengthening the position of the Public Service Fee to make sure that certified individuals are appointed to senior administration positions and to maneuver in the direction of making a single, harmonized public service,” the president stated.

The announcement got here even because the shadow of “state seize” – a scandal through which the Guptas, a household of Indian businessmen, used their affiliations with Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma to safe contracts with out due course of – continued to loom over the present administration.

Girls’s rights and empowerment

Ramaphosa promised “considerably extra funding” to be made accessible for the police, the Nationwide Prosecuting Authority and the Particular Investigating Unit in a rustic with one of many highest sexual violence charges globally.

“Crimes towards ladies and kids stay a deeply disturbing characteristic of our nationwide life,” he stated, promising to arrange specialised items specializing in particular varieties of crimes.

The federal government additionally intends to “direct a minimum of 40 p.c of public procurement to women-owned companies” to assist ladies entrepreneurs.

He additionally claimed that complaints that calls to 10111, the emergency response line, went unanswered could be addressed.

“Violent crimes take a heavy toll on each South African. Communities throughout our nation dwell in concern for the security of their households. This case can not proceed and should not proceed,” the president added.

Hope and resilience

Ramaphosa stated his nation was not outlined by “the minerals below our earth or the spectacular panorama above it”, however by the “hope and resilience” of its individuals.

He claimed that when he asks himself why he took up the position of president, a voice in him tells him, “Observe within the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.”

The late former South African president and anti-apartheid activist made “nice sacrifices” whereas serving his individuals, Ramaphosa stated, prematurely of the tenth anniversary of Mandela’s demise.

“We have to work collectively and depart nobody behind,” he stated.

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