08 February 2023
The Federation of Unions of South African (FEDUSA) looks forward to the delivery of the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa tomorrow with great anticipation for much needed solutions to the multiple crises the country is currently facing. We go into the 2023 SONA despondent as a nation following increases in interest rates while the cost of living continues to spiral. South Africans are also confronted with frequent power cuts that compromise their quality of life while causing irreversible damage to the economy and the country’s labour market. Despite past promises by President Cyril Ramaphosa that we would see those suspected of having a hand in the collapse of the state through the State Capture project would be behind bars, however this is also far from being realised.
Fedusa hopes that the President will have a clear and implementable plan for the following:
The power utility has been on its knees for years, with recent updates by task teams and committees responsible for resolving the crisis indicating that the electricity generation capacity of the entity will not improve anytime soon. Fedusa wants the President to make pronouncements on the procurement and regulatory challenges holding up Eskom’s ability to fix existing power stations and to bring new capacity online. We also expect an announcement on the suggested declaration of a state of disaster to ease procurement requirements and other regulatory matters that may be hampering the entity’s management from carrying out its duties efficiently.
As a result of the loadshedding crisis, companies in various sectors including motor and hospitality have indicated they will have to cut jobs with unions across the board seized with Section 189 retrenchment processes. Fedusa wants the President to address employers on what measures his administration will implement to reverse this trend. Ramaphosa came into office on the back of many promises, including the creation of millions of jobs. However, this undertaking immediately fails when millions of employed South Africans who would otherwise have job security, out on the streets due to unreliable energy supply. The country is on edge with 43% of the labour force unemployed.
• Local Government
The country’s municipalities have collapsed. Its finances are in shambles and have been for a long time. As a result, not even water provision, that is a basic human right, can be guaranteed. Municipalities have become a feeding ground for corruption, with the Auditor General reminding us yearly that officials are not qualified to carry out their duties as a result undermine the functions of municipalities as prescribed in the constitution. The President must share with the nation a detailed plan of how this problem will be resolved. We have heard many reassurances over the years about measures including the District Development Model that were aimed making municipalities effective again, yet these have failed to improve the situation in municipalities.
Fedusa has noted the government’s continued avoidance to implement the resolutions made in the first and second gender summit. A gender council as agreed to is yet to be established. Shelters meant to help abused women, children and others remain in unliveable condition. On the workplace front, Fedusa wants the President to take charge of the processes meant to implement and domesticate the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 that seek to address violence and harassment in the world of work.
• Social Relief of Distress Grant
Fedusa hopes that the President will make an announcement on the extension of the Social Relief of Distress grant which has proven a lifesaver for many South Africans albeit below the poverty line. The R350 must be increased, and the requirements must be expansive enough to be accessible to poor people. Poverty is a crisis in South Africa. Ramaphosa promised to end poverty within a generation, this will not happen if nearly half the labour force cannot access the job market and are only extended the paltry R350 to survive.
The writing has been on the wall for some time, however, recently crime appears to be spiralling out of control, with reports indicating that South Africa could soon become a mass murder capital like Colombia. This is a terrifying prospect. We need the President to address the public’s concerns over violent crime and what intervention he and his cabinet will implement to address this. The spate of killings and the high crime levels have a devastating impact on many aspects of the South African society including the economy and personal freedom.
The problems confronting the country are many and those mentioned above are just a few in the pile. We hope that President Cyril Ramaphosa will rise to the occasion and use his SONA address to give angry, demoralised, and anxious South Africans some relief.
For media enquiries
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
083 258 4433