SONA 2020 explained: The good, bad and ugly from Ramaphosa’s speech_1

It was a late finish in Cape Town, but that’s because we had all the fun of the fair to deal with. The EFF stormed out after a lengthy delay, Parliament was temporarily suspended, and MPs were left to reflect on a rolllercoaster evening for everyone involved. Here’s our summary of Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA 2020 speech:

SONA 2020: The good, the bad and the ugly

The good:


A coherent plan for Eskom: Fair enough, Ramaphosa loves a good “promise”. He just struggles to see a lot of them through. But his plan to increase the national grid’s dependence on Independent Power Producers – and six other interventions – is a small step forward in the bid to banish load shedding


Transparency and acocuntability: Ramaphosa told Parliament that he would be “signing performance agreements with all Ministers” before the end of this month. If you ain’t pulling your wait, you will be out the gate.


Investing in rail: The Central Line in the Western Cape and the Mabopane Line in Pretoria will have R1.6 billion spent on them. New stations, better trains and upgraded rail-tracks have all been earmarked.


Cutting business red tape: This is a proper good one, we’ll hand it to Cyril: He says that applications for water licenses for businesses will be reduced to a 90 day window before being processed – some can take up to five years as it stands. He also said at SONA 2020 that Bizportal will now process applications to start companies “within a day”, rather than the current 30-day limit.


Stronger toursim security: To support the growth of the tourism industry, SAPS will increase visibility at identified tourist attraction sites. Tourism Safety Monitors will establish a reserve police capacity tofocus on the policing of popular visitor areas.


Infrastructure boost: R700 billion will be spent on student accommodation, social housing, independent water production, rail freight branch lines, embedded electricity generation, municipal bulk infrastructure, and broadband roll-out over the next 10 years. Fill your boots.

The bad:


State capture: Ramaphosa said that he and his government have “acted decisively against state capture and fought back against corruption” – a pill that’s hard to swallow, considering no-one implicated at the Zondo Commission has been put behind bars at the time of SONA 2020, despite mounting piles of evidence.


The budget speech will be tough: We can expect low levels of growth this year, which means that we are not generating enough revenue to meet our expenses. Debt is heading towards “unsustainable levels”, and Cyril told SONA 2020 that this would be addressed by Tito Mboweni’s budget speech. Gulp…


Uh-oh, another state bank is coming: The ANC are also proceeding with the establishment of a state bank as part of their efforts to extend access to financial services to all South Africans. This is controversial and unpopular even with their own party members.


Youth Employment figures: Of the 1.2 million young people who enter the labour market each year, approximately two-thirds remain outside of employment, education or training before SONA 2020.


Land expropriation: This was very light on detail. All we learned was that the government have released 44 000 hectares of state land for the settlement of land restitution claims, and will this year release round 700 000 hectares of state land for agricultural production. We’re still on the dark regarding some major issues.


One-sided NHI view: Cyril said there was “enthusiastic support from South Africans” during public hearingson the National Health Insurance, and claimed he is putting in place mechanisms for its implementation following conclusion of the Parliamentary process. However, NHI is highly divisive amongst SA citizens.

The ugly:


EFF drama: We had to wait 97 minutes for the president’s speech to start. The scenes caused by Julius Malema and his colleagues were wholly unsavoury, and left a cloud of gloom over SONA 2020


Cyril’s still dreaming: As he did last June, Ramaphosa promised to build a new smart-city: He said it was taking shape in Lanseria, which “350 000 to 500 000 people will call home within the next decade”. It went down like a lead balloon last year, and again, critics have told him to focus on fixing existing cities instead.


The sacrifices needed for our youth: Around 1% of all national expenditure, across all departments, will need to be slashed to help find more jobs for our young workers. Great news on paper, but cuts across the board generally lead to misery elsewhere. Damned if you do…


Too many municipalities failing: According to Cyril Ramaphosa, there are Section 139 interventions in 40 South African municipalities. These are imposed when major local governments cannot sustain themselves, and this number is dreadfully high.

Why was SONA 2020 suspended?


It’s a long story. We’ve got it covered here.


13/2/20 South Africa Sona 2020 delayed by EFF disruption. Suspended until further notice @Parliament pic.twitter.com/11S386fRa3— RIOT & ATTACK info SA (@RiotAndAttackSA) February 13, 2020