Everything You Need to Know about #SONA2018 in 7 Ramaphosa Quotes

And yes: he talked about fees. Finally!

Cyril Ramaphosa brought Parliament down on Friday night with his inaugural SONA address as our new President. #SONA2018 was markedly different from the previous few SONAs, with an attentive house of MPs (and no EFF walkout before the President could speak). But instead of watching hours of the footage to figure out what’s what, here’s your roundup of the key points.

Here are the 7 things you need to know from Ramaphosa’s SONA speech:

1 ‘Our task, as South Africans, is to seize this moment of hope and renewal, and to work together to ensure that it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our people.’

In January at the World Economic Form, Ramaphosa made it clear to foreign investors that they were welcome in South Africa – an important part of reviving our economy and growing industry to create jobs. This is also important since Zuma’s axing of Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister and the current state-capture furore have caused many businesses to lose faith in South Africa’s stability. We’re hoping Ramaphosa can turn this ‘moment of hope and renewal’ into meaningful changes to grow our economy, get us out of junk status and improve how we’re perceived financially by investors overseas.

2 ‘This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions. We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity…’

It’s music to our ears to hear Ramaphosa address corruption: one of the biggest issues to plague and cripple our government. We can only hope that his strong statements about transparency and accountability in government, and promises to end corruption in government and a culture of greed, are actioned IRL, starting with the arrests and prosecutions of those implicated in the state-capture debacle.

3 ‘Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy. Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.’

Ramaphosa did address youth unemployment, an epidemic that’s at a chronic level. He said the government would be working to create jobs for young people in the country with a Jobs Summit scheduled for later this year.

Youth unemployment is cripplingly high and, if we don’t do something about it, South Africa faces an economic crisis. If there’s an action plan on the horizon, it means there may be a solution to fight youth unemployment.

4 ‘Through measures like preferential procurement and the black industrialists’ programme, we are developing a new generation of black and women producers who are able to build enterprises of significant scale and capability.’

Ramaphosa is promising to invest in black people and women through providing opportunities in decision-making, senior business positions in a social programme. Transformation is still lagging behind across industries and sectors, and it’s great to hear Ramaphosa acknowledging that the government needs to push companies to do more. Hopefully, this will mean reduced inequality and more diversity in the workplace.

5 ‘Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution (land redistribution). We make a special call to financial institutions to be our partners in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme as increased investment will be needed in this sector.’

The legacy of apartheid left behind immense social injustices, including the question of land redistribution for people of colour. It’s been a burning question for decades, with sufficient transformation being affected under previous presidents. It seems that Ramaphosa is especially focused on agricultural land, but we’re hoping for an equitable solution for dispossessed groups that offers effective economic acceleration for previously disadvantaged people, too.

6 ‘Starting this year‚ free higher education and training will be available to first-year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350 000.’

Ramaphosa continued: ‘The Minister of Higher Education and Training will lead the implementation of this policy‚ while the Minister of Finance will clarify all aspects of the financing of the scheme during his Budget Speech next week.’

Finally! Some details on how the government will respond practically to the #FeesMustFall movement – and who will be able to access financial support. We look forward to hearing more of the details in the Budget Speech next week. Hurrah!

7 ‘It is critical that the structure and size of the state are optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources… We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments.’

Ramaphosa is saying it’s high time the government became more efficient – and we agree! Overspending on unnecessarily large departments, misuse of funds and inefficiency in government cost taxpayers – including you – millions each year. The bottom line: we like the idea of cutting down and saving costs, and looking more critically at government employees and who does us a service – and who doesn’t.

Read more #COSMOTalks 

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