- Newly elected, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivered his first SONA at a joint sitting of parliament just over 24 hours after being sworn in as South Africa’s 5th State President
- During SONA2018, Ramaphosa promised, among many other commitments, to improve the country’s growth prospects and create jobs for the youth who he sees as South Africa’s future.
- In a speech which was heralded as “very hopeful” by many, he also promised to end the legacy of corruption which has, of late, tainted the country’s governing party
According to Briefly.co.za editor, Genevieve Dlamini, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa SONA2018 made many promises during his speech delivered to a full house, at a joint sitting of parliament.
By the time he was finished and the house erupted in joyous singing. He had, made no less than 43 promises.
Among the commitments he made, was a promise to deal with the corruption which has, of late characterised the government.
Other promises included a commitment to revive a flagging economy, restore investor confidence, create millions of new jobs.
In short, he promised to clean house and restore the country to the direction it lost while under the rule of recently recalled, former president, Jacob Zuma.
“We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders,” Ramaphosa said. “We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.”
Like the historical figures taking leading roles in the liberation of the country from apartheid, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Ramaphosa is lawyer. Instructed to be “deployed to the corporate world” by the late president Mandela, he is today, one of the wealthiest black men in South Africa, and by all accounts more than ready to return to the role he was made for, leadership.
He will have to act decisively to convince voters of his determination to revive an economy that’s expected to expand just 1.4% this year, slash a 27% unemployment rate and tackle endemic corruption, but if he can do that, he might well win back the support of those who have lost faith in the liberation movement turned ruling party, the ANC.
Most pressing in the tasks he has ahead of him is the selection of a replacement for the position he held since May 2014 of deputy president. He also needs to reshuffle the Zuma-appointed cabinet which many believe as as important to get out of their positions as it was to remove Zuma himself.
With the budget speech scheduled for Feb 21, those interested in the investment prospects of the country are keenly watching to see if he retains or replaces Malusi Gigaba as finance minister.
During SONA2018, Ramaphosa made no mention of a plan to shuffle his cabinet, but did hint that he might trim the size by reviewing the number of government departments.
A negotiator in the discussions to end to white minority rule and draft South Africa’s first democratic constitution, Ramaphosa, has promised to call discuss ways to create new jobs, finalise mining rules that have stifled investment in consultation with the industry and speed up the pace of land reform. He also said he wanted to increase access to AIDS drugs, as well as set up universal health care and deal with lifestyle related illnesses.
Ramaphosa’s past experiences bode well for his ability to make good on his promises, but it certainly isn’t going to be easy either. “We should not expect change to happen overnight,” Peter Hain, a former U.K. cabinet minister, who has campaigned against graft in South Africa where he was born, said in an interview in Johannesburg.
“The South African economy is bequeath with corruption that needs to be worked out. Cyril is the perfect leader to do this though. He pulled a blinder in getting Zuma out. It’s a momentous moment for South Africa, that brings new opportunity.”
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