'Fire Gordhan, fix Eskom': Political parties want action from Ramaphosa

In his previous speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa made a number of promises, including creating 250,000 jobs every year.

The Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to address the nation at 7 pm, political parties are calling on him to come up with practical plans to fix the economy and create jobs.

In his previous speech, he made a number of promises, including creating 250,000 jobs every year.

Most political parties agree that job creation needs to be prioritised by the president. The concerns come as the country’s unemployment rate is at its all-time high at 29.1%.

The economy is not growing fast enough. Political parties hope that reforms to kick-start the economy and practical plans to create jobs will be high on Ramaphosa’s list.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have shared their demands. The party told the president to fire Minister Pravin Gordhan or face rebellion.

The EFF’s Vuyani Pambo said Ramaphosa would not be allowed to utter a word. But Parliament said the EFF would be dealt with.

Eskom is another burning issue Ramaphosa is expected to address. The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Natasha Mazzone said they expected an action plan, saying the address was not about the glitz and glamour.

She believes the focus should be on Ramaphosa and his plans to fix the country.

“I think we need to seriously look at what the president is going to say on the electricity crisis. Millions of South Africans are unemployed, and we need plans in place, not pipe dreams.”

NO MORE 'RAMAPHORIA'

Ramaphosa is under pressure to frankly admit to the country’s problems.

It's less than a year since he last faced the nation, with the mandate of 11 million South Africans who voted for the ANC.

But "Ramaphoria" has dissipated as the country's economic woes have deepened, helped along by Eskom’s power cuts.

The pomp and ceremony at Parliament, not to mention the bling on display on the red carpet, may seem a slap in the face for hard-pressed South Africans, especially the millions without jobs.

Citizens are fed up with hearing about more promises and dreams of castles in the air.

More than anything, it seems, people want Ramaphosa to show that he is the boss, the firm hand on the ship's tiller, a clear course mapped out.

Most South Africans see Ramaphosa as a much better president than his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. But he's been head of state for two years now, and patience is wearing thin.

Ramaphosa has to deal with the divisions within his own party.

Perhaps more important is the fact that the reforms he is driving, to rebuild the state, can take a long time to filter down and be felt by people on the ground.

That's the gap that Ramaphosa somehow has to bridge on Thursday night, if people's confidence in his leadership isn't also to evaporate, like a castle in the air.