In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted that although the government has made strides in making sure that it changes the lives of people, more needs to be done to ensure that many South Africans’ lives are changed for the better.
On load shedding, Ramaphosa said the government has set out a clear plan to end load shedding, which they have been implementing with a single-minded focus through the national energy crisis committee.
“We have delivered on our commitments to bring substantial new power through private investment on to the grid, which is already helping to reduce load shedding.
“Last year, we implemented a major debt relief package which will enable Eskom to make investments in maintenance and transmission infrastructure and ensure its sustainability going forward,” he said.
Plans impacting agriculture
Climate change: Ramaphosa said the government has decided to establish a climate change response fund to address the persistent effects of global warming, which manifest themselves through persistent floods, fires and droughts.
“This will bring together all spheres of government and the private sector in a collaborative effort to build our resilience and respond to the impacts of climate change,” he said.
Logistics: To deal with severe inefficiencies in the freight logistics system, Ramaphosa said government is taking action to improve the ports and rail network and restore them to world-class standards.
“Working closely with business and labour, we have established dedicated teams to turn around five strategic corridors that transport goods for export purposes.
“And we are overhauling the freight rail system by allowing private rail operators to access the rail network,” he said.
Water: Ramaphosa said the department of water and sanitation aims to enhance water resource management by initiating infrastructure projects to secure water supply and diversifying water sources to reduce dependence on surface water.
“Bulk water projects are under construction across the country to improve water supply to millions of residents in villages, towns and cities.”
Land redistribution: Around 25% of farmland in the country is now owned by black South Africans, bringing Mzansi closer to achieving the target of 30% by 2030, the president said.
Policing: He explained that the government has strengthened the ranks of the police through the recruitment of 20 000 police officers over the last two years and another 10 000 in the year to come.
“During this administration, we have focused on equipping our law enforcement agencies, which had been systematically weakened, to do their work effectively.”
Reaction to the speech
Meanwhile, Agbiz chief executive officer Theo Boshoff said aside from encouraging remarks on land reform, Sona provided little in the way of policy direction for the coming year.
“We can interpret this in one of two ways, on the one hand, the address was devoid of any new ideas or major announcements to stimulate economic growth.
“On the other hand, one can argue that it was an affirmation that the state is not deviating from commitments made in the previous Sona but rather allowing critical processes to reform our electricity, logistics, and water infrastructure to unfold,” he said.
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