Ramaphosa hits the right notes in maiden Sona

Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered his first State of the Nation Address as president of South Africa.

FILE: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation Address at the Parliament on 16 February 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered a wide-ranging State of the Nation Address (Sona) concentrating on economic growth, free higher education, unity and making sure there is an end to corruption.

He said the country was seeing a new dawn.

“We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence and our country’s public leaders.”

Ramaphosa said there needed to be a focus on job creation with an improvement in education already.

“The country’s matric pass rate increased from 60.6% in 2009 to 75.1% last year. That is phenomenal progress.”

The president then turned his attention to corruption, announcing a number of new measures including a commission of inquiry into the South Africa Revenue Service (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 credible of the service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue target.”

WATCH: Sona 2018

The National Prosecuting Authority will also receive attention.

“We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the NPA to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered. Without any fear, favour or prejudice.”

Ramaphosa received applause when talking about the commission of inquiry into state capture, saying corruption would not be tolerated.

“We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity we want to fight it in the public sector.”

He says state-owned entities also need to be given special attention, including Eskom.

“The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore the financial position is just the beginning of the processes we’re going to embark on.”

Added to this, funding models need to change, along with how they are governed.

“We will also remove board members in a number of our SOEs. We have found that all members tend to get involved in operational matters up to procurement.”

WARM WELCOME

From the time Ramaphosa entered the National Assembly, there were cheers from the crowd unlike previously when the opposition would shout in protest at former President Jacob Zuma.

“I now call on the honourable president to address the joint sitting,” Speaker Baleka Mbete said.

He then started his address but he was on a charm offensive to the Economic Freedom Fighters, the party that previously proved to be a headache for Zuma and Parliament.

He joked with its leader Julius Malema.

“Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, the NCOP Chair Thandi Modise, Deputy Speaker of National Assembly and the Deputy Chair of the NCOP. Honourable Malema…”

Ramaphosa also spoke about Zuma, sending a word of gratitude to him for what he said was the manner in which the former president approached the issue around his removal.

He thanked him for his service to the nation during his two terms, saying the country made significant progress in several areas of development.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)