SONA 2021 Summary of the President’s speech
The theme throughout was a comparison of the people of the country to fynbos and the pandemic to a wildfire.
‘We have risen time and time again to herald a new dawn and a new day.’
‘Like the fynbos, we will rise again.’
This crisis has revealed the true character of the country, the true spirit of the people.
It has been no ordinary year.
Four most overriding priorities
1. Must defeat the coronavirus pandemic
2. Must accelerate our economic recover
3. Implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth
4. We must fight corruption and strengthen the state that has been weakened
We must do everything to overcome the pandemic and strengthen the health system.
Must undertake a massive vaccination program.
First batch of Johnson and Johnson vaccines will arrive next week – 80 0000 doses. Will get 500 000 doses over the next four weeks.
We have secured 9 million doses of J&J in total also 12 million doses of vaccine from Covax.
We will continue the science driven approach that has served us so well.
We never imagined a year ago what was to come – our budgets had to be adjusted
Sharp decline in growth and significant increase in unemployment, inequality is deepening
Unemployment currently stands at 30.8%
We expect to see a strong recovery in unemployment by the end of the year
Support payments during pandemic was unprecedented. The R350 grant lifted 5 million people above the poverty line.
R57 billion in wage support has been paid to over 4.5 million workers through the special UIF TERS scheme. R1.3 billion provided to small businesses.
We stand here not to make promises but to report back on progress
Four pillars of recovery – infrastructure, local production, jobs, energy growth sector
R100 billion Infrastructure Fund is now in full operation.
The Lanseria smart city I spoke of before is a reality in the making – the draft master plan is open for public comment.
Want to support massive increase in local production. Must start at home.
Four master plans for industrialisation between labour, business, government and communities – chicken, sugar, textile, vehicle.
BEE must be implemented and there is no reversal on that whatsoever – to address inequality, we must accelerate black empowerment.
Making it easier to start a business and ease of business had slipped, have been doing work to boost it. We are making it easier for business to do business. 125k new companies registered in past year.
Our country is still an attractive investment choice locally and abroad.
JOBS AND STIMULUS
The private sector remains the primary and biggest creator of jobs.
The public sector also has a responsibility to stimulate job creation.
Over 430 000 jobs have been supported through the presidential stimulus.
We will continue to support employment for as long as necessary.
Schooling disruption – priority is to regain lost time this year
Restoring Eskom is central to the work we have to do.
Eskom has been restructured into three.
Eskom is making substantial progress with maintenance to improve reliability of coal fleet
We are working closely with Eskom to reduce dependence on the fiscus. Requires a review of the tariff.
In December 2020 we signed a history social compact.
Regulations have been amended to allow municipalities to buy power from independent power producers.
Additional 11800 kw of power from renewable energy.
Eskom estimates that without additional capacity there will be a shortfall of electricity over next few years.
Part of the measures to address shortfall we will issue a request for proposals from wind, solar energy for 2600MW of power in bid window 5.
Working hard to ensure zero gas emissions by 2050.
Will begin the phased switch off of analogue tv transmitters from next month, completed by end of March 2022.
Process for licensing of high speed spectrum is at an advanced stage.
A Water Agency – Firmly believe if we are going to resolve our water challenges we need an agency to focus on this. The rail corridor from Gauteng is being extended to allow export of vehicles from PE. Durban to become hub port for Southern hemisphere.
A centralized SOE model is being implemented.
Our agricultural sector has done remarkably well. Second largest exporter of citrus.
500 Million hectares of land has been redistributed in addition to the land restitution process. Land and Agrarian Reform Agency to fast track land reform.
We find that less than qualified people are appointed at local government and all they do is ‘mess up’. The days of messing up are over.
Government is implementing a range of measures to address service delivery.
The revelations from the Zondo commission of inquiry lay bare the extent of state capture and related corruption. The testimony has shown how the criminal justice system was compromised.
We must sustain the momentum of rebuilding that we have begun.
There has been great progress in turning around law enforcement bodies. Critical leadership positions have been filled with trustworthy and capable individuals.
We have started the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy which lays the basis for integrated response.
Announces a new National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council. It will report to Parliament.
On PPE corruption – we established the fusion centre to share information and resources. This fusion centre has brought many cases to trial and recovered millions in public funds.
The Political Party Funding Act comes into operation on 1 April of this year.
We are taking steps to stop crimes like torching trucks etc. Task teams set up to deal with extortion and violence on sites of economic activity. These crimes hamper economic activity.
Will work to actively curb illegal immigration and border crime.
Ending Gender Based Violence is imperative. We are making progress in reducing backlog of GBV cases.
R128 million has been raised through global philanthropists to fight GBV.
In the year ahead we are going to forge ahead with efforts to create opportunities to people with disability.
Extend the period for the special Covid R350 grant by a further three months. Effective short term measure.
Extend TERS benefit until 15 March for those sectors that have not been able to open or operate. The sectors will be announced.
This crisis is an opportunity to build a different and a better South Africa. It requires a common effort.
Ended off with Maya Angelou’s poem ‘I Rise’.