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#Sona2019: Ramaphosa details plans to restore confidence in crucial entities

Delivering his speech on Thursday, the president touched on the burning issues of job creation, state security and the need to provide adequate accommodation for students.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete make their way to the State of The Nation Address in Parliament, Cape Town. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has used his State of the Nation Address to talk tough on corruption and the need to restore confidence in crucial entities, like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), South African Revenue Service and Eskom.

Delivering his speech in Cape Town on Thursday night, the president touched on the burning issues of job creation, state security and the need to provide adequate accommodation for students.

WATCH: Top 5 moments from Sona 2019

Turning his focus to Eskom, Ramaphosa confirmed the cash-strapped utility will undergo major restructuring in the form of a three-way split into separate entities.

“We shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities: generation, transmission and distribution. This will be under Eskom Holdings.”

Ramaphosa explained that Eskom is facing a "crisis".

"Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great. It could severely damage our economic and social development ambitions. We need to take bold decisions and decisive action. The consequences may be painful, but they will be even more devastating if we delay."

The president says by responding to challenges at Eskom, government can minimise the impact on the economy and consumers.

"As we address the challenges that face Eskom we will ensure that there is meaningful consultation and dialogue with all key stakeholders. We will lead a process with labour, Eskom and other stakeholders to work out the details of a just transition, and proper, credible and sustainable plans that will address the needs of all those who may be affected."

Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza says the unbundling of Eskom will benefit the country in the long run.

“There will no doubt be an effect on assets and resources. Communities are going to be affected by this. We have every intention to involve workers. This is not about them or us. We all have to work together.”

Mabuza says the utility's bosses will work hard to balance cutting costs and the implementation of affordable tariff hikes.

He says while Eskom management will be sensitive to the needs of South Africans, the utility must be turned around even if it causes discomfort.

“The whole of Eskom needs to be remodelled. Our costs are out of kilter. We are not getting a cost reflective tariff. The president has spoken about administered pricing and the effect on undermining the economy. All this will have to be taken in the context of what the president said. Everybody will have to take some pain.”

STATE SECURITY AGENCY

The president is also changing the way the State Security Agency works, among the interventions is the establishment of two arms of the service to focus on domestic and foreign intelligence.

This stems from the recommendations of the high-level review panel he established last year, tasked with assessing the mandate, capacity and organisational integrity of the agency.

Ramaphosa says it’s all geared to creating an agency that serves citizens rather than politicians.

During former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure, the State Security Agency was accused of being politicised and captured by the president.

Several ministers also complained that their phones were bugged by security agents.

Ramaphosa says it is time that the agency be revamped. He says government will re-establish the National Security Council and he will take control of it as chair.

“Among the steps we will take to reconstitute a professional national intelligence capability will be the re-establishment of the National Security Council chaired by the president in order to ensure better coordination of the intelligence and security related functions of the State, as well as the re-establishment of two arms of our intelligence service one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign intelligence.”

He says this will ensure improve coordination of the intelligence and security related functions of the state.

“We are pleased to note that in the spirit of active citizenry many South Africans continue to show a great interest in the future reconfigured state.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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