Here’s what was promised in the last Sona, and what has changed
On Thursday, Ramaphosa is set to address the nation with this government's plan for SA in 2024.
President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2023 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Supplied by GCIS
The State of the Nation Address (Sona) 2023 was delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 9 February last year, with the president making several promises.
He is set to take the podium again this Thursday, with promises in hand.
In the previous Sona Ramaphosa mainly addressed four issues South Africans deal with daily: load shedding, unemployment, poverty and the rising cost of living, and crime and corruption.
The president said solving these issues was not easy, however, the country has the resources to solve them.
Promises made in Sona 23
Addressing SA’s power crisis, Ramaphosa acknowledged that load shedding would impede on the country’s efforts to grow the economy.
“Without a reliable supply of electricity our efforts to grow an inclusive economy that creates jobs and reduces poverty will not succeed,” said the president.
In his speech, he shared a five tiered plan on how to combat this challenge.
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The first step was to enhance the reliability of the current power supply and fix the issues with Eskom’s coal-fired power stations. Secondly, facilitate and expedite private investments in power generation capacity.
Thirdly, speed up the process of acquiring new capacity from renewable sources, gas, and battery storage. Fourthly, encourage households and businesses to invest in rooftop solar energy systems. And, lastly, implement significant changes in the electricity industry to ensure sustainable energy in the long run.
“Experts agree that this plan is the most realistic route to end load shedding,” said Ramaphosa.
What has changed?
The country is currently battling stage 2 and 3 load shedding – and energy experts warn that the blackouts will be experienced by South Africans for many more years.
The government’s recently released Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has also been called underwhelming.
Jee-A van der Linde, senior economist at Oxford Economics Africa, said the draft IRP is poor on details and technical assumptions.
He warned that Eskom’s system status outlook for 2024 is worse than ever before, indicating that South Africa can expect to experience an electricity shortfall of about 2 000 MW every week.
Another energy expert Roger Lilley said the IRP 2023 offers no innovation or out-of-the-box thinking.
In his 2023 Sona speech the president reminded businesses, government departments and state-owned entities “to remove the requirement for work experience for young people seeking entry-level positions”.
What has changed?
SA’s unemployment rate still remains incredibly high but saw a slight decrease of 0.7% to 31.9% in the third quarter from 32.6% in the second quarter.
According to Busi Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership SA, an extensive result of youth employment will only be realised once the private sector is stimulated to employ more people.
Poverty and the rising cost of living
Ramaphosa acknowledged the increasing cost of living was driving up poverty and further widening the inequality wedge.
“Around 60% of our budget is spent on what is known as the social wage, providing various forms of support, basic services and assistance to households and individuals to combat poverty and hunger,” said Ramaphosa.
He also promised that the government would increase the social grants to meet people halfway due to inflation.
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What has changed?
Around 26.5 millions people recieve social grants every month, including the R350 social relief of distress grant. Additionally, there are plans for the possible introduction of a basic income grant.
Many South Africans still live in poor and informal settlements.
“This year, we will take steps to unlock massive value for poor households by expediting the provision of title deeds for subsidised houses,” Ramaphosa said in his 2023 Sona speech.
Data from the Department of Human settlements claimed that 38 632 houses were built in 2022. It aims to build another 53 655 homes in 2023-2024.
Although houses are still being delivered, the rollout is slow. Corruption has been blamed as the main reason for the slow delivery.
Crime and corruption
Crime and corruption continues to disrupt the daily lives of South Africans.
“We are strengthening the Saps to prevent crime and improving the capacity of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and courts to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Ramaphosa.
What has changed?
There have been thousands of arrests via Operation Shanela in the last year, and a decrease in the country’s murder figures, but crime continues to be a major issue in the country.
July to September last year saw an increase in attempted murder case, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, common robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
SA also scored below the global average in the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index.