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Sona 2019: More 'hell' & economy growing solutions expected

Ordinary South Africans, businesses, and political parties expected the president to present solutions to the crisis at many of the country’s state-owned entities.

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

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – The countdown is on to President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address where he would again be expected to speak to concerns about an ailing economy and soaring unemployment.

The number of jobless people rose above 27% in the first quarter of this year while GDP shrunk by more than 3%.

Ordinary South Africans, businesses, and political parties expected the president to present solutions to the crisis at many of the country’s state-owned entities.

An economist believed South Africa's energy situation was one of the most important issues to look out for when Ramaphosa delivered his Sona on Thursday night.

Speaking after a Parliamentary walkabout on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said his speech would be directed at all of South Africans from all walks of life.

Pan African Investment and Research Chief economist Iraj Abedian citizens would want to hear whether the president has finally come up with a credible solution for the country's energy problem.

“I’m not just talking about Eskom, it is part of it but not the entire energy policy going forward. If you remember in the last Sona, the president made a very bold promise that Eskom was going to be restructured and generation is going to be put on a solid foundation and Eskom’s financial problems are going to be solved alongside that.”

MODISE CALLS FOR CALM

Newly elected National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said she wanted Ramaphosa's third address to be well received by politicians and the public.

Last week, a fight broke out between the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters members during an induction session in Parliament.

Modise has called for calm during Thursday night's Sona, saying she wanted proceedings to take place in a calm and coordinated manner.

“For us to focus on what we’ve been elected to do; representing the people. They expect their MPs to worry about them, to worry about their issues and not to bicker in Parliament. That was the message I sent.”

'WE EXPECT HELL'

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it expected nothing new from Ramaphosa's Sona.

Vavi said Ramaphosa would likely endorse the same neoliberal policies that have kept the rich richer and the poor poorer for the past 25 years.

He said instead, the working class would be blamed for the problems at state-owned enterprises including South African Airways, Eskom and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Saftu's secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said: “We expect more hell coming out of the State of the Nation Address. The fundamental difficulties, the structural deficiencies we inherited from the apartheid, the colonial economy will not be addressed. They will be no change of direction.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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