STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

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STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

 

7 FEBRUARY 2019

PARLIAMENT

 

Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete,

Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise,

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP,

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and esteemed members of the judiciary,

Former President, Mr Thabo Mbeki,

Former President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Frene Ginwala,

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Max Sisulu,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Premiers and Speakers of Provincial Legislatures,

Chairperson of SALGA and Executive Mayors,

Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Mr Lesetja Kganyago,

Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions,

Isithwalandwe, Ms Sophie De Bruyn,

Isithwalandwe, Mr Andrew Mlangeni,

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu,

Western Cape Khoi San Leader, Prince Jacobus Titus,

Kgosi John Molefe Pilane,

Chief Aaron Martin Messelaar,

2018 CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year, Ms Desiree Ellis,

Leaders of faith based organisations,

Leaders of academic and research institutions,

Veterans of the struggle for liberation,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Invited Guests,

Honourable Members of the National Assembly,

Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces,

Fellow South Africans,

 

It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver the 25th annual State of the Nation Address in a free and democratic South Africa.

 

This year, as a diverse people and as a united nation, we will celebrate one of the greatest of human achievements.

 

We will celebrate the triumph of freedom over subjugation, the triumph of democracy over racial tyranny, the triumph of hope over despair.

 

We will celebrate the irresistible determination of an oppressed people to be free and equal and fulfilled.

 

We will use this time to recall the hardship and the suffering which generations of our people endured – their struggles, their sacrifices and their undying commitment to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

 

We will remember the relief and exhilaration of the day of our freedom, the moment at which we became a nation, a country at peace with itself and the world.

 

During the course of this year, we must and will reflect on the journey of the last 25 years.

 

As South Africans, we will have to ask ourselves whether we have realised the promise of our nation’s birth.

 

We must spend this year, the 25th anniversary of our freedom, asking ourselves whether we have built a society in which all South Africans equally and without exception enjoy their inalienable rights to life, dignity and liberty.

 

Have we built a society where the injustices of the past no longer define the lives of the present?

 

We must use this time to reflect on the progress we have made, the challenges we have encountered, the setbacks we have suffered, and the mistakes we have committed.

 

A year ago, we set out on a path of growth and renewal.

 

Emerging from a period of uncertainty and a loss of confidence and trust, we resolved to break with all that divides us, to embrace all that unites us.

 

We resolved to cure our country of the corrosive effects of corruption and to restore the integrity of our institutions.

 

We resolved to advance the values of our Constitution and to once again place at the centre of our national agenda the needs of the poor, unemployed, marginalised and dispossessed.

 

We agreed that, in honour of the centenary of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu, we would devote our every action, our every effort, our every utterance to the realisation of their vision of a democratic, just and equitable society.

 

In our magnificent diversity, and despite our many differences, the people of this country answered the call of Thuma Mina.

 

In their multitudes, South Africans asked not what can be done for them, but what they could do for their country.

 

In ways both large and small, both public and private, South Africans set about building a better nation.

 

Many reached out to other South Africans to lend a hand where others were going through difficulties.

 

Others expressed a willingness to support government in its efforts to turn the country around.

 

Today, as we reflect on the year that has passed, we can attest to meaningful progress.

 

Our people have embraced the renewal that our country is going through and are much more hopeful about a better tomorrow.

 

Our people’s hope is not baseless; it is grounded on the progress that is being made.

 

Over the last year, we have begun to rebuild a durable social compact for fundamental social and economic transformation with key stakeholders as we promised.

 

As social partners, we are restoring the bonds of trust, dialogue and cooperation.

 

We are reaching out to those parts of our society that have become disaffected, disinterested or marginalised through various forms of dialogue and engagement.

 

Our efforts may have been uneven, and we still have much work to do, but we have demonstrated over the last year our shared determination to work together to confront our common challenges.

 

We have focused our efforts on reigniting growth and creating jobs.

 

We have worked together – as government, labour, business, civil society and communities – to remove the constraints to inclusive growth and to pursue far greater levels of investment.

 

We held a successful Presidential Jobs Summit that agreed on far-reaching measures that – when fully implemented – will nearly double the number of jobs being created in our economy each year.

 

Last year, a number of stakeholders raised their concerns about policy uncertainty and inconsistency.

 

We have addressed these concerns.

 

In response to the dire situation at several of our state-owned enterprise – where mismanagement and corruption had severely undermined their effectiveness – we have taken decisive measures to improve governance, strengthen leadership and restore stability in strategic entities.

 

We have also had to deal with the effects of state capture on vital public institutions, including our law enforcement agencies, whose integrity and ability to fulfil their mandate had been eroded in recent years.

 

We have therefore acted to stabilise and restore the credibility of institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Revenue Service, the State Security Agency and the South African Police Service.

 

We have appointed a new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Shamila Batohi, to lead the revival of the NPA and to strengthen our fight against crime and corruption.

 

We are implementing the recommendations of the report of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS and are in the process of appointing a new Commissioner to head this essential institution.

 

On the basis of the report and recommendations of the High Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency, which was chaired by former Minister Sydney Mufamadi, I will soon be announcing a number of urgent steps to enable the reconstitution of a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa.

 

Among the steps we will take to reconstitute a professional national intelligence capability will be the re-establishment of the National Security Council chaired by the President in order to ensure better coordination of the intelligence and security related functions of the State as well as the re-establishment of two arms of our intelligence service one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign intelligence. 

 

Work on the reconfiguration of the state is at an advanced stage.

 

We are pleased to note that in the spirit of active citizenry many South Africans continue to show a great interest in the future reconfigured state.

 

During the course of the past year as the Presidency, we have paid particular attention to the violence and abuse perpetrated against women and children in our society.

 

We responded to national concerns and calls by many South Africans by convening a Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide that has provided a firm basis for a coordinated national response to this crisis.

 

We also convened the first Presidential Health Summit in October last year, which brought together key stakeholders from a wide range of constituencies in the health sector.

 

At this Health Summit, the participants dissected the crisis in the health system and proposed immediate, short term and medium term solutions to improve the effectiveness of the health system. 

 

We begin this new year encouraged by the progress we have made, working together, in reviving our economy and restoring our country’s democratic institutions.

 

We are determined to stay the course.

 

We are undaunted by the considerable difficulties we have yet to overcome.

 

All of us, as South Africans, should face up to the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead.

 

The task of building a better South Africa is our collective responsibility as a nation, as the people of South Africa.

 

It is at the centre of the work of every department of government, of every agency, of every public entity.

 

It informs every policy, every programme and every initiative.

 

While there is a broad range of critical work being done across government, this evening I want to address the five most urgent tasks at this moment in our history.

 

These are tasks that will underpin everything that we do this year.

 

Working together, we must undertake the following tasks:

 

-     Firstly, we must accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs.

 

-     Secondly, our history demands that we should improve the education system and develop the skills that we need now and into the future.

 

-     Thirdly, we are duty bound to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor

 

-     Fourthly, we have no choice but to step up the fight against corruption and state capture.

 

-     Fifthly, we need to strengthen the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people.

 

Over the past year, we have focused our efforts on accelerating inclusive growth, significantly increasing levels of investment and putting in place measures to create more jobs.

 

Last year, our economy was confronted by the reality of a technical recession.

 

Government responded with an economic stimulus and recovery plan that re-directed public funding to areas with the greatest potential for growth and job creation.

 

Our approach was not to spend our way out of our economic troubles, but to set the economy on a path of recovery.

 

We introduced a range of measures to ignite economic activity, restore investor confidence, support employment and address the urgent challenges that affect the lives of vulnerable members of our society.

 

We are pleased to report that significant progress has been made in restoring policy certainty on mining regulation and the visa regime, crafting the path towards mobile spectrum allocation, and reviewing port, rail and electricity prices.

 

We also began the process of stabilising and supporting 57 municipalities, where over 10,000 municipal infrastructure projects are being implemented.

 

The focus we have placed on revamping industrial parks in townships and rural areas has brought about discernible change, as industrial parks that have been lying idle are becoming productive again.

 

We have so far completed the revitalisation of 10 out of 16 identified industrial parks, in places such as Botshabelo, Phuthaditjhaba, Garankuwa, Isithebe, Komani and Seshego.

 

The levels of growth that we need to make significant gains in job creation will not be possible without massive new investment.

 

The inaugural South Africa Investment Conference in October last year provided great impetus to our drive to mobilise R1.2 trillion in investment over five years.

 

The Investment Conference attracted around R300 billion in investment pledges from South African and international companies.

 

There was also a significant increase in foreign direct investment last year.

 

In 2017, we recorded an inflow of foreign direct investment amounting to R17 billion.

 

Official data shows that just in the first three quarters of 2018, there was an inflow of R70 billion.

 

This is a phenomenal achievement compared to the low level of investment in the previous years.

 

Our investment envoys – Trevor Manuel, Mcebisi Jonas, Phumzile Langeni and Jacko Maree – as well as InvestSA are closely monitoring the status of the investments announced at the Investment Conference.

 

To prove that our investment conference was not just a talk shop where empty promises were made, as we speak, projects to the value of R187 billion are being implemented, and projects worth another R26 billion are in pre-implementation phase.

 

Drawing on the valuable lessons we’ve learnt, through a more focused effort, and through the improvements we’re making in the business environment, we aim to raise even more investment this year.

 

We will be identifying the sectors and firms we want and need in South Africa and actively attract investors.

 

Based on our experiences over the past year, and to build on the momentum achieved, we will host the South Africa Investment Conference again this year.  

 

It is our intention that the investment we generate should be spread out in projects throughout the country.

 

In this regard, I have asked provincial governments to identify investable projects and ensure that we build investment books for each of our nine provinces to present to potential investors.

 

Following our successful Investment Conference, a group of South African business leaders moved by the spirit of Thuma Mina initiated the Public-Private Growth Initiative to facilitate focused investment plans of leading companies across 19 sectors of the economy, from mining to renewable energy, from manufacturing to agriculture.

 

These industries expect to substantially expand investment over the next five years and create a vast number of new jobs, especially if we can enhance demand for local goods, further stabilise the labour environment and improve conditions for doing business.

 

As part of our ongoing work to remove constraints to greater investment, we have established a team from the Presidency, Invest SA, National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation that will address the policy, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers that frustrate investors.

 

This is an important aspect of our work to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa, which is essential to attracting investment.

 

This team will report progress to Cabinet on a monthly basis.

 

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report currently ranks South Africa 82 out of 190 countries tracked.

 

We have set ourselves the target of being among the top 50 global performers within the next 3 years.

 

It has long been recognised that one of the constraints that inhibit the growth of our economy is the high level of economic concentration.

 

The structure of our economy was designed to keep assets in a few hands.

 

This has stifled growth and enterprise and has to a large extent kept many young South African entrepreneurs and small enterprises out of the economy or confine them to the margins.

 

As part of our efforts to increase investment, and to foster greater inclusion and create more opportunities, I will soon sign into law the Competition Amendment Bill.

 

This will give the competition authorities the ability to address this problem but more importantly it will open up new opportunities for many South Africans to enter various sectors of the economy and compete on an equal footing.

 

To stimulate growth in the economy, to build more businesses and employ more people, we need to find new and larger markets for our goods and services.

 

We will therefore be focusing greater attention on expanding exports.

 

In line with Jobs Summit commitments, we will focus on the export of manufactured goods and trade in services such as business process outsourcing and the remote delivery of medical services.

 

We will also be looking at establishing special economic zones that are dedicated to producing specific types of products, such as clothing and textiles, for example.

 

To improve the competitiveness of our exports, we will complete the studies that have begun on reducing the costs of electricity, trade, communications, transport and other costs.

 

We will focus on raising the sophistication of our exports.

 

The agreement on the establishment of African Continental Free Trade Area offers great opportunities to place South Africa on a path of investment-led trade, and to work with other African countries to develop their own industrial capacity.

 

The agreement will see the creation of a market of over a billion people with a combined GDP of approximately $3.3 trillion.

 

Alongside a focus on exports, we will pursue measures to increase local demand through, among other things, increasing the proportion of local goods and services procured both by government and the private sector.

 

Increasing local demand, and reducing the consumption of imports, is important because it increases the opportunities for producers within South Africa to serve a growing market.

 

Through this we will intensify the “buy South Africa” programme.

 

Given the key role that small businesses play in stimulating economic activity and employment – and in advancing broad-based empowerment – we are focusing this year on significantly expanding our small business incubation programme.

 

The incubation programme provides budding entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, access to specialised knowledge, market linkages, training in the use of new technologies and access to finance.

 

The incubation programme currently consists of a network of 51 technology business incubators, 10 enterprise supplier development incubators and 14 rapid youth incubators.

 

As part of the expansion of this programme, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four provinces, with more to follow.

 

We expect these hubs to provide most needed entrepreneurial service to small and medium enterprises in the rural areas and townships but more especially to young people who want to start their businesses.

 

Our greatest challenge is to create jobs for the unemployed of today, while preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow.

 

The Presidential Jobs Summit last year resulted in concrete agreements between organised labour, business, community and government.

 

These agreements, which are now being implemented by social partners, aim to create 275,000 additional direct jobs every year.

 

We have come up with great plans, platforms and initiatives through which we continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through initiatives like the Employment Tax Incentive.

 

This incentive will be extended for another 10 years.

 

In addition, we have launched the Youth Employment Service, which is placing unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.

 

We call on all companies, both big and small, to participate in this initiative and thereby contribute not only to building their business but also to building the economy and fostering social cohesion.

 

Progress is being made in the areas of installation, repair and maintenance jobs, digital and tech jobs like coding and data analytics, as well as global business services.

 

These enable us to absorb more youth – especially those exiting schools and colleges, and those not in any education, training or employment – into productive economic activity and further work opportunities.

 

As government, we have decided that the requirement for work experience at entry-level in state institutions will be done away with.

 

Our young people need to be given a real head start in the world of work.

 

They should not face barriers and hindrances as they seek to find work.

 

We are focusing our attention, our policies and our programmes on the key parts of the economy that are labour intensive.

 

These include agriculture, tourism and the ocean economy.

 

The potential of agriculture in South Africa for job creation and economic growth still remains largely underdeveloped.

 

South Africa still has large areas of underutilised or unproductive land.

 

There are around 250,000 small emerging farmers who are working the land and need support in fully developing their businesses.

 

Agricultural exports are an important source of revenue for our economy, and developing our agricultural sector is key to enhancing our food security and for attracting investment.

 

We are fortunate to have an agricultural sector that is well-developed, resilient and diversified.

 

We intend to use it as a solid foundation to help develop agriculture in our country for the benefit of all.

 

Through an accelerated programme of land reform, we will work to expand our agricultural output and promote economic inclusion.

 

Our policy and legislative interventions will ensure that more land is made available for agriculture, industrial development and human settlements.

 

I wish to commend the many South Africans who participated in the work of the Constitutional Review Committee in the dialogue that ensued through the length and the breadth of the country.

 

I applaud the members of the Constitutional Review Committee for remaining focused throughout this period and sifting through the submissions that were made by ordinary South Africans and their organisations.

 

We will support the work of the Constitutional Review Committee tasked with the review of Section 25 of the Constitution to unambiguously set out provisions for expropriation of land without compensation.

 

Alongside this constitutional review process we tasked the Deputy President to lead the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform to fast-track land reform.

 

An advisory panel of experts headed by Dr Vuyo Mahlathi, established to advise government on its land reform programme, is expected to table its report by the end of March 2019.

 

As part of accelerating land reform, we have identified land parcels owned by the state for redistribution.

 

Strategically located land will be released to address human settlements needs in urban and peri-urban areas.

 

As part of the stimulus package in agriculture, we have invested significantly in comprehensive farmer development support to ensure that restituted and communal land is productively utilised.

 

We will continue to prioritise targeted skills development and capacity building programmes for smallholder and emerging black farmers.

 

In the coming year, we will continue to focus on high value agricultural products with export potential such as our fruit, wine and vegetable industries, as well as poultry and red meat.

 

During SONA last year, we spoke at length about the huge potential that exists for the expansion of the tourism sector.

 

Our concerted efforts to market South Africa as a prime destination for tourists has yielded positive results, with significant annual growth in the number of foreign visitors.

 

In the past year we had 10 million tourists who came to our country.

 

We intend to raise this to 21 million by 2030, targeting, among others, the largest and fastest growing markets of India and China, as well as strong markets on our continent.

 

In addition to direct jobs, this export industry could generate as many as 2 million more jobs in food and agriculture, construction, transport, retail, and the creative and cultural industries by 2030.

 

We will deepen the partnership between government and business to realise this vision.

 

Our highest priority this year will be on the introduction of a world class eVisa regime.