MPs to dissect Ramaphosa's Sona

Members of Parliament would gather for what would be a marathon debate scheduled to take up to 10 hours.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in a joint sitting of Parliament on 20 June 2019. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces would hold a joint sitting on Tuesday to debate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Ramaphosa delivered his third Sona last week, which focused mainly on the country’s ailing economy.

He outlined his vision of a better South Africa which included the creation of two million jobs for young people in the next 10 years.

Members of Parliament would gather for what would be a marathon debate scheduled to take up to 10 hours.

They would pick apart President Ramaphosa’s speech in which he shared his dream of creating a new city as well as a high-tech bullet train, plans which solicited not too positive - if not cynical - reaction from opposition parties.

Outlining his ambitious plans, Ramaphosa also announced seven key priorities which would focus on economic transformation, job creation, education and skills development.

Ramaphosa also made a bold declaration that the sixth administration would be an era of implementation and no more talk shops.

A heated and robust debate was expected in the House on Tuesday before Ramaphosa responded to MPs on Wednesday.

WATCH: Everything you need to know from Sona 2019


Last week, opposition parties described the President's address as pie in the sky.

Opposition politicians found Ramaphosa speech uninspiring and chronically low on real solutions to the problems that were plaguing South Africa, like Eskom's financial woes and the state of other ailing state-owned enterprises.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said: “No turns of a plan on what we’re going to do with Eskom, more retro coming from the president talking about, in fact, a different departure from February where he talked about unbundling. This time around he’s talking about a stimulus plan that goes into that.”

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was more scathing, saying Ramaphosa didn’t seem to have a clue about what he wanted for South Africa.

“The man wanted to be president for the last 30 years, he still doesn’t know what he wants to do for South Africa, except to tell us that he’s dreaming."

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota and other smaller parties had similar views on the speech.

They also did not warm to the president's plans for Eskom, calling them unconvincing.

In his Sona in February, Ramaphosa spoke about unbundling the struggling power utility and making it self-sustaining.

But on Thursday night, he signalled there was a long and expensive road ahead for the utility, one that must be walked because Eskom was too important to fail.

Hlengwa said they had every reason to be confused about Ramaphosa's plan for Eskom.

“It is confusing precisely because Eskom is on the verge of a bailout and so, yet again we’re throwing financial solutions to their financial problems. The issues remain, consistently so, the collapse of government structures within all these SOEs.”

The United Democratic Movement's Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said Ramaphosa was basically offering Eskom a massive bailout.

“For instance, even when it comes to Eskom, they use nice financial jargon and say special appropriation for a bailout.”

To add to opposition parties’ annoyance, Ramaphosa wasn't able to give even the most basic of details about Eskom's future, saying they would be announcing the appointment of a new CEO following the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe.

The president also had no update on the other big appointment at Eskom, the Chief Restructuring Officer, meant to oversee the repositioning of the company.

Given Thursday night’s response to Ramaphosa's speech, it seemed likely the president would be in for a rough ride in the week to come when parties get to pick the address apart in the debate on Sona.