Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’: President Cyril Ramaphosa's SONA2018 promises

Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’: President Cyril Ramaphosa's SONA2018 promises

Editor's note: Many might not have been able to watch the 2018 SONA live, or, even if having watched it, would find it helpful to have a breakdown of the promises made during the speech. editor, Genevieve Dlamini, breaks it down here for you.

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1. Celebrations of Mandela and Sisulu centenary

"We will recount Madiba’s long walk to freedom, his wisdom, his unfailing humility, his abiding compassion and his essential integrity. 

"We have dedicated this year to his memory and we will devote our every action, every effort, every utterance to the realisation of his vision of a democratic, just and equitable society. 

"Guided by his example, we will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behaviour and ethical leadership. 

He also went on to mention the celebrations this year of "the centenary of another giant of our struggle, Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu."

"Through her remarkable life and outstanding contribution, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, a leader and a diligent and disciplined servant of the people. 

"As we mark her centenary, we reaffirm that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free. 

"We honour this son and this daughter of the African soil in a year of change, in a year of renewal, in a year of hope."

Promising more than just honouring them in word but saying the country would celebrate them "in direct action towards the achievement of their shared vision of a better society." He added that putting disunity and disillusionment which has characterised an "era of discord" would honour Madiba.

2. National unity

Ramaphosa said South Africa is "a nation at one", and as such should work together to do all that is needed to "build a society defined by decency and integrity that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people."

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3. Work to be done

The president listed the tasks needed to make to build a better country, economy, society, and infrastructure. These included jobs for the youth, more factories and roads, houses and clinics, the preparation of children for a changing world, building of cities and towns where families are able to be "safe, productive and content." 

4. End of corruption

"We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people," he said. 

5. Dealing with an unequal society

"We remain a highly unequal society, in which poverty and prosperity are still defined by race and gender," said Ramaphosa, adding that South Africa is called to "confront the injustices of the past and the inequalities of the present," while suffering under difficult conditions at the moment. "The state we are in as a nation is that while poverty declined significantly following the democratic breakthrough of 1994, we have seen reverses in recent years," he said mentioning that povery levels rose in 2015 while unemployment has increased in the midst of persisting unemployment. "For several years our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty."

6. Reduction of poverty and unemployment

Ramaphosa said that public employment programmes have created more than 3.2 million work opportunities and continues to provide much needed income, work experience and training. 

"We have taken measures to reduce the cost of living, especially for the poor," he said explaining that "government’s free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households." 

7. Education

"If we are to break the cycle of poverty, we need to educate the children of the poor," said Ramaphosa. "We have insisted that this should start in early childhood."

Citing the numbers of "a million children in early childhood development facilities," the president said "we are seeing improvements in the outcomes of our basic education system. 

8. Building a prosperous and equitable society

Mentioning the improvements of the past he looked to the future.          "As we enter a new era, we are determined to build on these achievements, confront the challenges we face and accelerate progress in building a more prosperous and equitable society." 

He said there are early indications that increased investor confidence is on the horizon. "We have seen a moderate recovery in our economy and a broader, sustained recovery in the global economy. 

"Commodity prices have improved, the stock market has risen, the rand has strengthened."

9. Political stability, policy certainty, and consistency

"We have taken decisive measures to address concerns about political instability and are committed to ensure policy certainty and consistency."

He described the sense of optimism and hope among people in South African. "Business confidence among South African companies has improved and foreign investors are looking anew at opportunities in our country," he said. "Some financial institutions have identified South Africa as one of the hot emerging markets for 2018. 

"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."

10. Co-operation between labour, public, private sectors

Promising that 2018 will be a year when measures will be set to lead the the country towards the path of growth, employment and transformation. "We will do this by getting social partners in our country to collaborate in building a social compact on which we will create drivers of economic recovery. We have to build further on the collaboration with business and labour to restore confidence and prevent an investment downgrade."

11. Job creation

"At the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth," promised Ramaphosa in his speech. "We are going to embark on a number of measures to address the unemployment challenge."

He mentioned the Jobs Summit which would be convened within the next few months to align the efforts of the multiple stakeholders and sectors towards "the imperative of job creation." 

"We will expect this summit to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately."

12. Investment conference

"We will make a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy, " said the president speaking of the Investment Conference government is planning in the next three months which will cast it's net both locally and internationally to gather investors and "market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country."

13. Re-industrialisation

Moving to the industrial and manufacturing sectors, Ramaphosa said the decline over many years which has "deeply affected employment and exports," needed to be addressed.

"We will seek to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy," he promised. "We are going to promote greater investment in key manufacturing sectors through the strategic use of incentives and other measures." 

14.Transformation and radical economic development

He added that the plan is to forge ahead with the localisation programme which he said needed to be underpinned by transformation, to further stimulate manufacturing. 

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

"We will improve our capacity to support black professionals, deal decisively with companies that resist transformation, use competition policy to open markets up to new black entrants, and invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas. 

"Radical economic transformation requires that we fundamentally improve the position of black women and communities in the economy, ensuring that they are owners, managers, producers and financiers."

15. Tackling youth unemployment

"Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment," said Ramaphosa emphasising the great urgency in drawing young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity. 

"We continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through programmes such as the Employment Tax Incentive," he said adding that the government is working in partnership with various stakeholders to create opportunities. 

"Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy."

16. Increased engagement between youth and government 

"I will be establishing a Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests."

17. Infrastructure investment 

"Infrastructure investment is key to our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs, empower small businesses and provide services to our people. We have invested heavily in new roads, power stations, schools and other infrastructure."

However, he did also accede that some projects were lagging behind. "As some of our projects are taking time to get off the ground and to enhance our efforts, I will assemble a team to speed up implementation of new projects, particularly water projects, health facilities and road maintenance," he promised, saying the government would draw from the lessons they had learned from the experience in building all the new infrastructure. 

18. Budget and monitoring

"We will focus on improvements in our budget and monitoring systems, improve the integration of projects and build a broad compact on infrastructure with business and organised labour."

19. Mining potential to be realised and safety addressed

"We need to see mining as a sunrise industry," said Ramaphosa, who has direct experience in the mining industry as a businessman man. "Mining is another area that has massive unrealised potential for growth and job creation is mining." 

"This year, we will intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainable transform the face of mining in South Africa," he promised adding his belief that a resolution of the current impasse could be achieved by "working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision," towards an agreement which he feels will accelerate transformation and grow "this vital sector of our economy."

"Processing of the MPRDA Amendment Bill through both houses of parliament is at an advanced stage, with an indication by Parliament that the Bill will reasonably be finalised during the first quarter of 2018. The Bill, once enacted into law, will entrench existing regulatory certainty, provide for security of tenure and advance the socio-economic interests of all South Africans."

 Moving toward the issue of mining fatalities of late he said the government will call on mining companies to work together with all stake holders to help ensure that mine accidents are dramatically reduced. "One mining fatality is one too many. Fellow South Africans," he said.

20. Small business growth and support

Saying that in South Africa, as is the case in many other countries, the growth of the economy will only be sustained by small businesses. Because of that, he said, "it is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy."

"We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs. Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises. We will continue to invest in small business incubation. We encourage business to do the same."

Ramaphosa said the establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5 billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play in helping small bussiness development. 

"Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups," he added. "We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses." 

21. Increased economic opportunities for disabled

We are also working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilities," he said.

"Among other things, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme."

22. Agriculture revitalisation and land reform

Ramaphosa then shifted his focus to farming. "Agriculture presents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs," he said.  

"This year, we will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture," he promised. "We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation." 

He said the government would pursue an approach making effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal. 

He said that the government would be guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party. "This approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation but should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid," he said. 

"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." 


"Tourism currently sustains 700 000 direct jobs and is performing better than most other growth sectors," said Ramaphosa. "There is no reason why it can’t double in size! We have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people." 

He promised that this year government will "enhance support for destination marketing in key tourism markets and take further measures to reduce regulatory barriers and develop emerging tourism businesses."

24. Digital Industrial Revolution Commission

Noting that the prosperity of South Africa is contingent on its ability to take full advantage rapid technological change, he said: "This means that we urgently need to develop our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation."

"We will soon establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will include the private sector and civil society, to ensure that our country is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in information and communication technology."

25. Data costs must fall

Related to his earlier reference to technology he then moved towards how the drive towards the digital industrial revolution is underpinned by the availability of efficient networks. "We will finalise our engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers."

26. Free trade area for open market access opportunities

"South Africa has acceded to the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement, which brings together SADC, COMESA and the East African Community," said Ramaphosa adding that the combined markets within the free trade area covers 26 countries with a population of nearly 635 million. 

"Negotiations towards the Continental Free Trade Agreement are progressing at a brisk pace, and it is expected that the framework agreement could be concluded soon," he said.

27. National minimum wage

"On the 1st of May this year, we will introduce the first national minimum wage in South Africa. This historic achievement – a realisation of one of the demands of the Freedom Charter – is expected to increase the earnings of more than six million working South Africans and improve the living conditions of households across the country."

28. Presidential Economic Advisory Council

"To ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy – and to ensure that we are better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances – I will be appointing a Presidential Economic Advisory Council. It will draw on the expertise and capabilities that reside in labour, business, civil society and academia."

29. National state of disaster elevation of drought areas

"The drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a national state of disaster. This gives national government the authority to manage and coordinate our response nationally with support from all provinces."

"This will ensure that we also heighten integrated measures to support the provinces that are hardest hit," said Ramaphosa adding that government is looking at activating the needed extraordinary measures permitted by law. "I commend the people of Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape for diligently observing water saving measures. We call on everyone in the country to use water sparingly as we are a water-scarce country that relies on this vital resource to realise our development aspirations. 

30. Phasing in free higher education over 5-year period 

"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 said this would be implemented by the ministry of Higher Education and the Minister of Finance will clarify all aspects of how the scheme will be financed during next week's budget speech. 

31. National Senior Certificate on SA Sign Language

Also significant is the implementation of the first National Senior Certificate examination on South African Sign Language, which will be offered to deaf learners at the end of 2018. 

The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative programme continues to deliver modern facilities to schools in rural and underprivileged urban areas across the country, with at least 187 schools being complete to date. 

The programme will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year. 

32. Fixing the broken social grant mess

"Social grants remain a vital lifeline for millions of our people living in poverty," said Ramaphosa touching on the recent mess of the ongoing Sassa saga. "We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with the all directions of the Constitutional Court," he said adding a personal reassurance to those who rely on grants. "I want to personally allay fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of this critical service, and will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court." 

33. Eliminating HIV

"This year, we will take the next critical steps to eliminate HIV from our midst," said Ramaphosa describing how through scaling up of testing and treatment campaigns there are plans to initiate an additional two million people on ARV treatment by the end of the 2018.

34. Improving fights against lifestyle diseases

Ramaphosa said there is also a need to confront lifestyles diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. "In the next three months we will launch a huge cancer campaign similar to the HIV counselling and testing campaign. This will also involve the private sector as we need to mobilise all resources to fight this disease," he said adding that it was time to finally implement universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance. 

35. Rollout of universal healthcare

"The NHI Bill is now ready to be processed through government and will be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks. Certain NHI projects targeting the most vulnerable people in society will commence in April this year."

36. Plans to improve security

"In improving the quality of life of all South Africans, we must intensify our efforts to tackle crime and build safer communities," said Ramaphosa. 

"During the course of this year, the Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime." 

37. Social Sector Summit

"In recognising the critical role that NGOs and community-based organisation play in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems, we will convene a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year. Among other things, this Summit should seek to improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face. "

38. Streamline government departments

"We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments," promised Ramaphosa touching on the many state owned enterprises facing challenges. "We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state owned enterprises," he promised, "the recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning." 

He said SOEs will not just be able to borrow their way out of difficulty and that government would  "change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions." 

39. Fight against corruption in public institutions

"This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions. The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption," said Ramaphosa saying the commission of inquiry into state capture headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly. 

"The Commission is critical to ensuring that the extent and nature of state capture is established, that confidence in public institutions is restored and that those responsible for any wrongdoing are identified. 

But he also said the Commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption. "We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity. We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe there is someone who is prepared to pay it," he said. 

40. Strengthen law enforcement institutions

"We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered."

READ ALSO: Treasury officials jobs were threatened if they tried to expose corruption - Treasury official

41. Restore credibility of SARS

"At the request of the Minister of Finance, I will shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the Service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets."

42. Visits to every national department

"During the course of the next few months, I will visit every national department to engage with the senior leadership to ensure that the work of government is effectively aligned.

"I will also find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that the state, in its entirety, responds to the pressing needs of our people."

43. Everything's going to be Ok!

At the end of his speech his general promise to the country was in short that everything was going to be ok.

Without actually promising that he was going to right the boat on a stormy ocean, he did offer reassurance and hope.

"While change can produce uncertainty, even anxiety, it also offers great opportunities for renewal and revitalisation, and for progress," he said. "Together we are going to make history."

"We have done it before and we will do it again – bonded by our common love for our country, resolute in our determination to overcome the challenges that lie ahead and convinced that by working together we will build the fair and just and decent society to which Nelson Mandela dedicated his life."

He then also added to the feels of everyone watching his speech by quoting the words of the words of the late Bra Hugh Masekela.

"In his song, ‘Thuma Mina’, he anticipated a day of renewal, of new beginnings. He sang:“I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around, When they triumph over poverty, I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS, I wanna lend a hand, I wanna be there for the alcoholic, I wanna be there for the drug addict, I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse, I wanna lend a hand, Send me.”

READ ALSO: Ramaphosa wants to make SA the world's best tourism destination

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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