Ray Mahlaka
3 minute read
17 Feb 2018
8:25 am

What analysts are saying about SONA 2018

Ray Mahlaka

Made South Africans feel good about the future, but light on clear economic growth proposals.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen on the steps of parliament for the Sona yesterday. Picture: Jacques Nelles

South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa has used his maiden State of the Nation Address to outline his key priorities for fighting corruption, creating jobs, and restoring growth to the economy.

Here’s what political analysts and economists said about the president’s speech.

Kevin Lings, the chief economist at Stanlib:

“It was a comprehensive speech in the sense that he addressed most of issues that are prevailing in South Africa. He didn’t appear to be evasive or avoiding a particular topic. The issue he came across the strongest on was the need to eradicate corruption and reform SOEs. There was also a good focus on job creation and how it needs to take centre stage.

“When it comes to specific measures to fix the economic problems, it does look like it needs to be referred to hosting summits on job creation and driving investments. It seems like there will be more debates at these summits on how to create jobs. It’s encouraging as we have not had good dialogue about why we can’t create jobs. But at the same time, you don’t want to see another round of discussions, debates and policy statements that delay any policy action and implementation.” 

Lumkile Mondi, a senior lecturer at the Wits School of Economics and Business Science: 

“Ramaphosa’s economic proposals is a continuation of what we really seen. The capability of the state is weak and government finances are weak. He has to work hard with stakeholders in sectors such as agriculture and mining, where there is so much uncertainty. He is talking very high-level but he knows that he has to work harder in terms of policy and whether it is understood by stakeholders. For now, it’s just another talk. Let’s see if implementation takes place in proposals such as introducing a jobs fund. 

“He missed an opportunity to really telling south Africans that we will support SOEs that are relative to our agenda and we will sell the rest. It’s unrealistic for him to use public money to go to SOEs that we know are inefficient given government’s focus on cutting costs.” 

Gwen Ngwenya, the chief operating officer of the South African Institute of Race Relations:

“Ramaphosa needed to deliver on two fronts: politics and the economy. Politically, it was important for him to provide a diagnostics analysis of what has exactly gone wrong. It’s not sufficient to say, for example, we will establish faith in the institutions or fix corruption. You have to identify how the institutions were compromised and how this administration will make sure those compromises don’t happen in the future. This was not adequately addressed.

“In terms of the diagnostic analysis of the economy, he also failed. He was good at outlining what our current problems are such as unemployment and weak economic growth. Again the question is how did we get to the problems versus what is the problem. We can’t solve these problems with the same polices we implemented over 20 years ago.”

“He delivered on more rhetoric and platitudes. There is idea that we need a Codesa moment, where government and business will come together and discuss. It’s 20 years [too] late to discuss. It’s time to implement economic policies.”

Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst:

“There were no killer blows in the speech. However, we saw a speech of weight and gravitas. As a messenger, Ramaphosa carried credibility and he delivers a speech with that credibility. South Africa and the world will listen to Ramaphosa when he speaks. That’s what he had going for him tonight. The message that a new dawn is upon us and South Africa is open for business, will resonate well among foreign investors.”

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