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Today's State of the Nation Address could be a tough one for President Cyril Ramaphosa. First, some of the opposition political parties have already stated that his honeymoon is over. This means the president can forget about having them in his corner when he delivers his address. Second, he will present it with resignations of key ANC members from Parliament still fresh in his mind. Third, the president will not have recovered from the recent war of words in the past few weeks, which saw ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and the Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni singing from different hymn books. Besides these issues, some of which are primarily ANC ones, the president has a number of challenging national realities he has to confront and pronounce on as the nation has expectations of him. The most burning issue is the country's economic situation. The economy is not growing at the pace we all would like to see. Figures for the first quarter showing the economy contracted by 3.2% makes this address even more important. South Africans and the international community will be closely listening to Ramaphosa to learn how government plans to take the country out of this quagmire. Rating agencies will also be eager to hear what the president will say about the country's economic future. Any lapse in concentration by Ramaphosa could have serious negative implications for the country's already slow performing economy. He put himself under unnecessary pressure a few weeks ago when he spoke about the "nine wasted years" under former president Jacob Zuma. He was the deputy president of the ANC and the deputy president of the country for some of these years. The question that follows is whether he was also part of those "wasted years". It would be disingenuous for him to play innocent with the hope that he will receive South Africans' sympathy. South Africans will be keenly listening to Ramaphosa to find out how his government will deliver on its election manifesto to create permanent jobs. He has already hosted the Jobs Summit It would be unwarranted to promise the country more jobs summits when the outcomes of the previous one have not been fully implemented if at all . For the country to create jobs it needs a strong infrastructure. This means that Ramaphosa's speech would be incomplete if it does not spell out government plans to improve the country's infrastructure. The recent resignations of Phakamani Hadebe from Eskom and Vuyani Jarana from SAA have brought the issue of state owned enterprises SOEs back on the agenda. The state of the SABC has also not helped. To crown it all, Ramaphosa appointed Pravin Gordhan into his Cabinet and saddled him with the responsibility to rescue SOEs. Given that he was holding the same position in the fifth Parliament when the country experienced the so called "load shedding" means that South Africans will be expecting to hear what is new that the government will offer in this regard. Allegations of racism raised by black and Indian doctors against medical aid schemes mean that when talking about the country's health, Ramaphosa should go beyond repeating that plans to roll out the National Health Insurance are under way. The common incidents of train accidents which take lives put pressure on Ramaphosa to make clear pronouncements on the government's plans to address this issue. Last, volatile political situations in countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Libya and many other African countries deserve inclusion in the address. Ramaphosa should project South Africa as a global player. Mngomezulu is a professor of political science and the deputy dean of research in the department of politics at UWC.
Created at 2019/06/24 12:25 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2019/06/24 12:25 PM by Mediclinic