The annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) once again delivered drama as opposition parties made it clear they were not in support of Jacob Zuma’s presidency. However, despite the chaotic run-up, Zuma eventually managed to deliver his address. Here are some of the highlights:
To read the full speech, click here.
- Zuma says we have entered a period of recovery, with experts expecting an economic growth rate of 1.3% in 2017.
- Government will focus more on youth development and employment to ensure the economy keeps growing in years to come.
- Zuma referred to radical socio-economic transformation. In short, the government plans to close the gap between the poor and middle class.
- More opportunities should be created to empower black entrepreneurs to have ownership in businesses.
- The current BEE framework will be adjusted and strengthened.
- The Competition Act 1998 (Act 89 of 1998) will possibly be amended to ensure the corporate sector is more inclusive and competitive.
- Government will pay special attention to addressing the backlogs and delays in the registration process and issuing of title deeds.
- R100-million has been set aside to upgrade and modernise major harbours.
- Government has signed a cooperation agreement with China to build a new Moloto rail system.
- Sanral has made R4.5-billion available to upgrade the Moloto road.
- In total, R847-billion will be spent over a period of three years to improve overall infrastructure.
- The Mining Charter will be reviewed. This “seeks to recognise the internationally accepted right of the State to exercise sovereignty over all mineral and petroleum resources with the Republic.” This review is aimed at “de-racialising ownership of the mining industry.”
- Government will focus on upgrading and/or converting mining hostels to better house families. They will also facilitate home ownership options for mine workers.
- An inter-ministerial committee has been set up to look at the “revitalisation of distressed mining communities”.
- Government intends to focus more on renewable energy including wind, solar, biomass and others. Nuclear offers the possibility of generating well over 9000 MW to the South African power grid.
- Zuma also said that “shale gas is a game-changer for our economy”.
- There has been a notable decrease in the number of households involved in agriculture, having dropped from 2.9 million households to 2.3 million.
- The reopening of land claims is still on hold since the proposed Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act was turned down by the Constitutional Court.
- Government urges land claimants to accept land instead of financial compensation. Currently, over 90% of all land claims resulted in financial payments instead of land being given to the claimant.
- Government intends to review the NSFAS policies to make university subsidies more accessible to more students.
- Specialised units focusing on drug-related crimes, taxi violence and firearms will be set up.
- Special task forces will also be sent to problem areas where crime is reaching crisis levels.
- The Mpumalanga High Court will be completed this year, resulting in every province now having it’s own high court.
- Government seeks to renew the AGOA trade agreement with the United States.
- We will start exporting pulses, mangos and pork to India, while we have also agreed to export 20 000 tonnes of beef to China per year over the next 10 years.