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Can President Ramaphosa live up to COSATU expectations with his SONA address?

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is eagerly awaiting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), which it says will provide the country with an update on the government’s key economic programmes.

COSATU National Spokesprson, Sizwe Pamla said in a statement President Ramaphosa should outline areas where economic growth is needed,  measures to reduce unemployment, plans to end load-shedding, address crime, corruption including service delivery.

According to the African National Congress-affiliated labour federation, South Africans are grappling with an astronomical 43 percent unemployment rate, mounting debt, and economic slump.

Pamla, said the country’s  problem were also being compounded by the 10 hours of blackouts every day.

Besides the rail system being attacked by criminal gangs, extreme crime and corruption are rampant, and the local government is inept and incapable of providing the necessary services.

“The government must also meet the pledges made in the 2022 SONA to foster public trust. Continuing power cuts won’t help the economy thrive and will not reduce unemployment,” Pamla said.

He emphasizes that it is imperative that the ANC NEC Lekgotla proposal for a state of emergency be formally implemented.

Pamla believes the government must ensure Eskom has the resources and authority it needs to decrease load shedding, expedite high-capacity maintenance, and add new generation capacity.

He added that it should also cut Eskom’s debt load and fill its fiscal gaps, and address corruption and lawlessness crippling the power utility.

“Similar measures should be taken at Transnet and Metrorail, which are essential for the expansion of the mining, manufacturing, and agricultural industries in addition to the urban economy. Furthermore, the government must devise a definitive programme for the revival of the Post Office, SABC, DENEL and other ailing yet formerly prosperous state-owned enterprises.”

While welcoming the 3 percent drop in unemployment by 2022, Pamla said no country can thrive with a 43 percent joblessness rate.

“It is essential that the government assist those out of work, especially the young, to enter the workforce.”

The Presidential Employment Stimulus Program must be increased in the February Budget Speech to include at least 1 million participants.

This must be followed by 2 million in the October Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

Pamla said the Special Relief Dispensation Grant has been a beacon of hope for millions of jobless persons, however the technical issues that plague it must be remedied to guarantee that all unemployed individuals can access it.

He suggested that this should be taken up to the Food Poverty Level and used as a basis for the Basic Income Grant.

He emphasises the alarming deterioration of municipalities, which necessitates real action from Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs, the South African Local Government Association, Treasury, and the police.

Their breakdown is causing thousands of employees to be laid off as companies are compelled to close when municipalities can no longer provide essential services.

Pamla said the disarray in local government is draining Eskom R57 billion.

He pointed out that particular attention should be given to the provision of clean and available water. It needs to resolve infrastructure backlogs, or else it will plunge the nation into another costly dilemma.

“The government needs to take concrete steps to intensify the battle against crime and corruption. This includes turning around the deeply troubling decline in SAPS and National Prosecuting Authority personnel numbers.

The South African Revenue Services need to be endowed with the authority to perform lifestyle assessments of politicians and senior state officials,” added Pamla.

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