WRAP | Corruption and job creation: Here are key issues raised in the Sona debate

MPs from opposition parties had mixed responses to the president’s address

16 February 2022 - 13:32
By Cebelihle Bhengu
EFF leader Julius Malema during Monday's debate on the state of the nation address.
Image: GCIS EFF leader Julius Malema during Monday's debate on the state of the nation address.

The debate concerning President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) by MPs concluded on Tuesday, and all eyes are on the president, who is to respond on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa delivered his address last Thursday and outlined plans to tackle issues including power cuts and high unemployment, and detailed government’s response to Covid-19 and corruption.

MPs from opposition parties had mixed responses to the Sona.

EFF leader Julius Malema said the president’s address hardly inspired or showed he had a plan to deal with the main concerns facing the country.

Some ANC MPs addressed general challenges facing the country and pledged to help overcome them. 

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said Ramaphosa not only acknowledged challenges in his government, but was acting to address them. 

Here’s a look at some key issues raised during the two-day debate:

South Africans have become poorer — Malema 

Malema said more should be done to reduce the ever-growing levels of joblessness and poverty among black South Africans. He called on Ramaphosa to come up with a viable plan for job creation that does not involve the private sector, as mentioned in his Sona.

“Sending our people to the private sector for jobs is like sending cattle for slaughter. What we know about the private capitalist sector is that its purpose has never been and will never be about the creation of jobs.”

Ramaphosa walks the talk — Gungubele 

The minister commended Ramaphosa’ stance on holding to account officials who have been implicated in corruption. He said the president acknowledged concerns faced by the ruling party and offered solutions.

“The presidency is setting up a system for co-ordinating the implementation of all Special Investigating Unit recommendations across the multiple departments responsible for implementation. This will overcome gaps in accountability and allow us to monitor and detect where there is inadequate progress in implementation.”

Parliament must root out corruption — Siviwe Gwarube 

The DA shadow minister of health blamed the ruling party for its failure to root out corruption under state capture, saying it had negatively affected job creation and delayed service delivery. 

Gwarube said parliament, led by the ANC, needed “to get back to work” and ensure accountability and enforcement of the law. 

“This house is not a place of comfort where mediocrity can find a home. Committees in parliament should be the engine room for passing legislation and demanding more from ministers. 

“Instead of removing implicated ministers like Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Zizi Kodwa and Gwede Mantashe, he [Ramaphosa] opts to create a parallel cabinet of advisers and chairs of many task teams.” 

Sona was commendable — John Steenhuisen

The DA leader said Ramaphosa did not sound “like a man leading the ANC” when he said the private sector, and not the state, was capable of job creation. He also had a positive reaction to the rest of his address, saying it was taken “from the DA manifesto”.

“For almost three decades this government has done all it possibly could to discourage job creation in the private sector with terrible draconian regulations and labour laws. For almost three decades the ANC has stuck to its guns of putting government and the state at the centre of job creation and treating small business owners as the enemy.”

Progress in land reform — Thoko Didiza 

The minister of agriculture said progress has been made in land reforms, and more was being done to advance this, to ensure the alleviation of poverty and inequality, among other interventions.

“Growth in agriculture is two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than the equivalent amount of growth generated outside agriculture. Growth in agriculture reduces poverty and can also extend to other welfare outcomes such as food security.” 

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