Bittersweet SONA – FEDUSA
21 June 2019
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has reacted with mixed feelings to President Cyril Ramaphosa’ s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered before both Houses of Parliament on Thursday.
FEDUSA also has a dream of creating jobs at a more intense pace to ensure that this new dawn can somehow be realized for the millions of unemployed and discouraged work seekers. Whilst we welcome the priorities and goals outlined, the Federation cannot completely envision this dream, when so many structural impediments are staring us in the face. Ironically, in the wake of this dream, FEDUSA has successfully obtained a Section 77 Certificate against the very transport and rail networks that the President dreams of, that will link workers to their workplaces to access jobs, said Acting General Secretary Riefdah Ajam. Equally so, strengthening health remains a serious bone of contention to FEDUSA, as we simply do not have the capacity to deliver an effective and efficient health service when critical posts in the sector remains unfilled, fueling service delivery protests.
Likewise, the “two million more people in employment, remains a very ambitious target, when the tangible results of the Youth Employment Services (YES) Programme and the full uptake of the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) are not translating into real job opportunities”.
It is disappointing that President Ramaphosa’ s speech did not provide much needed policy clarity on plans to force public pension to funds to invest in prescribed assets including bailing troubled State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The total silence on how government plans to rescue other seriously troubled SOE’s such as SAA and others is a matter of grave concern.
However, the President’s personal example of promoting the buy local is to be welcomed, as same as the announcement that government will soon be appointing a new Chief Executive for Eskom, the embattled state power utility in order to stabilize the entity ahead of concrete restructuring details that will be provided by the Minister of Finance shortly.
The President’s reaffirmation of the independence of the Reserve Bank and its primary role as that ensuring currency stability in aid of economic growth comes at an opportune moment and is crucial element of the investment drive as it will assure both local and international investors that South Africa is indeed open for business. That R250 billion worth of Presidential Investment Summit projects have reached implementation ahead of a second Summit in November and in addition to the private sector’s pledge of R850 billion for industrial projects in petroleum, plastics and energy sectors constitute the green shoots, of the long delayed inclusive growth strategy.
The announcement that Cabinet will soon deliberate on the Report by the Parliamentary Section 25 Review Committee on Land Reform that has been placed before it and subsequently make substantial public pronouncement on it will provide important policy clarity on the contentious proposals to expropriate land without compensation. The fact that this policy clarity happens parallel to the announcement that R3.9 billion have been allocated to the Land Bank to assist emerging farmers, signals governments seriousness to creating an enabling environment for the agricultural sector especially the critically important issue of food security.
Plans to significantly reduce the costs of data will make digitally based models of learning more accessible to millions of school children and tertiary students while enabling South Africa to take advantage of the opportunities that will be offered by the fourth industrial revolution. However, the outline of the Just Transition must be escalated following a number of S189 applications received as a result of technologically driven initiatives that have seen a whopping number of retrenchments following unfulfilled promises that a Moratorium on Retrenchments will be in place following the Jobs Summit. The announcement of a dedicated Gender Based Violence and Femicide Council is a welcome departure from the bland commitment to fight this scourge that the nation had become accustomed to, concluded Ajam.
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FEDUSA Acting General Secretary
079 696 2626
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096