SONA 2018 presents hope, but no urgent plan for change

Issued by Mmusi Maimane – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
16 Feb 2018 in News

There were great expectations for tonight’s maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The President set out a vision of unity for the country that all South Africans warmly welcome. We pledge our support in building one nation, with one future, which is in the interests of all South African.

Beyond the fine words of renewal and new found unity, he unfortunately did not fulfil the expectations of the public with a clean break from the Zuma era, and a total change from the current tried, tested and failed ANC policies that have brought our nation to this point.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for South Africa is too much of a continuation of the Zuma era. There is no major policy reform, only some tinkering with the current policies that have not brought change to the lives of our people. There were too many conferences and summits announced, and not enough clear plans for fixing the problems.

Our country needs a brave new beginning and total change from the past decade and not more of ANC rule – not more meetings and talkshops. The reality is, while there has been a change in leadership in South Africa, the material conditions of ordinary South Africans have not changed.

The President quite correctly articulated the number one challenge our country faces – youth unemployment. Yet, our young people want immediate action and total change – not more plans to make plans, and more talkshops. This is the type of passive policy that has kept our young people trapped for so long.

We welcome the President’s announcement of a Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships. This is a step in the right direction, but not enough to ensure access to jobs for all young people in South Africa

What we need is a string of legislation that will change the economic environment, and make it easier for young people to find work. This must fundamental alter the way we approach the creation of work. ANC policy will not, and cannot, address our crippling youth unemployment crisis.

While we have a basic education system that continuously fails our children and jeopardizes their futures, Ramaphosa found it unnecessary to address this and announce any meaningful reform. This was a failure by Ramaphosa, and shows more of the same from the ANC.

The intention to pass the MPRDA into law in the next few months is a huge misstep by Ramaphosa. The DA will object to this piece of disastrous legislation which will only bring uncertainty and volatility into the mining sector, and will act as yet another stranglehold on this job-creating sector.

Ramaphosa also failed to address illegal immigration, and how to better protect our borders.

Land reform is a justice issue, and must be addressed with urgency. We agree with the President around the empowerment black women via land reform. This must not just be for the few, and we cannot in good conscience support the regressive policy of redistribution without compensation.’

Ramaphosa’s intention to cut the size of cabinet is a long overdue move, and we welcome this. We need to cut the fat in government and ensure we have a lean, efficient national government.

Lastly, we welcome the announcement of free higher education for those who cannot afford it. This must be done in a sustainable manner that does not bankrupt our nation.

South Africa needs immediate and total change. 9 years of the Zuma Presidency has set our nation back, and unfortunately President Ramaphosa did not show tonight that he is able to bring the total change we desperately require.