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Cosatu: Ramaphosa to deliver most crucial Sona since democracy

The trade union federation has reached out to government with a proposal that workers’ pensions be used to cut about half of Eskom’s R450 billion debt.

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking on Cape Town's City Hall balcony at the 30th-anniversary parade of the release of former president Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is expecting President Cyril Ramaphosa to frankly acknowledge the crisis the country is in when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday.

The trade union federation has reached out to government with a proposal that workers’ pensions be used to cut about half of Eskom’s R450 billion debt.

The offer has sparked vehement opposition from other unions and opposition parties but is under discussion.

Cosatu’s Matthew Parks believes the president’s speech on Thursday will be one of the most crucial in the country’s post-apartheid history: “This is probably the most critical State of the Nation Address we’ve had in the 25 years of being a democratic state. The economy is bleeding…”

With a limping economy, load shedding, job losses, failing state-owned entities, corruption and crime, Ramaphosa will be under pressure to show there’s a glimmer of hope.

“Workers want a sense of hope. We’d want clear time-frames, targeted interventions, less about poetry and I think a signal that the government accepts responsibility for the crisis that we’re in,” Parks said.

Parks added that Cosatu also wanted Ramaphosa to spell out plans to revive the economy, to create jobs and halt corruption and wasteful spending by the state.