Ramaphosa: COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant extended by 3 months

President Cyril Ramaphosa is delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address in Parliament against a grim backdrop of a staggering economy, deepening unemployment and a stalled vaccine rollout.

WATCH LIVE: The State of the Nation Address 2021

The speaker tells MPs that they must follow COVID-19 regulations; social distance and leave in order. 

The president is done.

He urges South Africans to rise. "Let's march forward to equality, to growth... May God continue to bless South Africa."

The president quotes Maya Angelou 'I Rise' poem. 

Ramaphosa: We can get through this because we're a nation that never gives up. 

Ramaphosa: Fellow South Africans, this extension will help the poor, badly affected by this COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa says the special COVID-19 grant will be extended by 3 months

He says there's also money allocated [R12 billion over 3 years] to fight GBV in SA.

The president assures people that gender-based violence cases will be dealt with more decisively. 

The president hails law enforcement agencies and prosecuting body for fighting corruption.

"The days of messing up are over. We want professional people to run our municipalities." Ramaphosa says.

The president is happy with the rains we've received since January. "The favourable weather conditions in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 mean that agriculture is likely to grow in the near term." Ramaphosa adds.

"Our work on climate change will be guided by a commission which meets this week." Ramaphosa says.

Ramaphosa: Eskom has committed to let zero emissions but 2050 to repower part of its coal fleet.

Ramaphosa addresses climate change and how it affects every aspect of life.

Ramaphosa says government will continue to help Eskom with generating capacity to make sure all South Africans have electricity. 

Ramaphosa says the private sector is important for job creating in South Africa so there will be more investment that goes towards the sector.

Ramaphosa: To bridge inequality we must speed up BBE policy. It will not be reversed. 

Ramaphosa hails the Toyota and Ford plants which will bring jobs in the country.

"Buy local. Support local. The suit I'm wearing was made local, right here in South Africa." The president stressed the importance of buying local products to help recover the economy.

ICYMI:

The president says there's a project which will rollout wi-fi in schools, hospitals and police stations.

He says the Lanseria city plan is now a reality and will be with the public for comment.

The president says last year, he spoke about smart cities. "Many people laughed. many people scoffed at the idea."

Ramaphosa says there will be a massive housing programme that will benefit those in informal settlements. 

"Our unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 30.8%." Ramaphosa says

Ramaphosa says as much as he's only listed 4 major issues in his Sona speech, there are other issues:
"In the coming weeks, we will address the other important elements of government’s programme for the year.
 
Fundamental to our nation’s recovery is an unrelenting and comprehensive response to overcome the coronavirus." He adds.

"Phakama... [rise] seems to be this year's Sona theme."

The president says the pandemic has intensified or made worse inequality in the country.

"As we've overcome before, we'll overcome again. We'll rise. But we must also overcome poverty, hunger, joblessness in our country." Ramaphosa says.

The president says the government continues to engage various stakeholders for the vaccine so that we can have enough.

Ramaphosa thanks provinces for their hard work on this massive rollout.

Ramaphosa says the country has secured 9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines. "All provinces have rolled out plans to administer the vaccine."

Ramaphosa notes the challenges with the AstraZeneca vaccine...

He says we must defeat COVID-19.
"We must create jobs."
"We must fight to bring our economy back."
"We must fight corruption."
The president said.

He says this year, SA must rise as a nation. "I'll focus on four main issues." Ramaphosa says.

Ramaphosa begins by lauding all the frontline workers helping to save lives and fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Ixesha lisondele..." [the time has come]. It's time for President Ramaphosa to address the nation.

Given the situation the country is in, the stakes are high for this year’s State of the Nation Address. For Ramaphosa’s political future, they could be even higher.

Picture: Twitter @sagovnews

We now take you to Parliament, visuals coming from Parly...

ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina said she expects Ramaphosa to details how the government plans to fight COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout, more information on efforts to rebuild the economy and create jobs... What are you expecting from the president?

Ramaphosa’s speech will reflect on the past year and set out the strategic goals of his government for the year ahead.

President Ramaphosa will honour the more than 46,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in a candle-lighting ceremony before he speaks.

So what will the president likely talk about or promise?

A lot has happened in the past year; an entire pandemic! The COVID-19 pandemic, people died, some lost their livelihoods, then there were allegations of PPE corruption, unemployment is high, SA still has the scourge of gender-based violence... It's a lot.


Ramaphosa will deliver his fifth Sona against a grim backdrop of a staggering economy, deepening unemployment and a stalled vaccine rollout. This will be from 7pm.

Hello and welcome to EWN's live blog about President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation (Sona) address.