The ANC Parliamentary Caucus appreciates this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa and the debate that followed.
In the face of various challenges facing South Africa, the ANC declared 2023 “the Year of Decisive Action to Advance the People's Interests and Renew Our Movement”.
The State of the Nation Address demonstrated government’s determination to act decisively in line with the 2023 theme of the ANC.
The ANC applauds the work of the President and departments who have executed their mandates under very challenging conditions. The President and various Ministers gave factual accounts of the work government has done and continuing to do to rebuild the economy and address the challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality, crime and corruption.
THE ENERGY CRISIS
The President identified load-shedding as a crisis facing the country that can be solved through focused and collective work.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus supports the President’s declaration of the state of national disaster to enable the government and Eskom to speed up the implementation of measures to end load-shedding in the shortest space of time possible.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus also support the appointment of a Minister of Electricity in the Presidency whose job will be to restore energy security in South Africa and drive the implementation of measures that will help businesses and households which are disadvantaged by load-shedding.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus welcomes the focus of government’s economic recovery plan on rolling out massive infrastructure projects, increasing and improving the industrial capacity of the country and continued implementation of the employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods, providing renewed support to grow businesses and fast-tracking reform measures for an inclusive economy.
The debate acknowledged that economic growth and investment levels have remained low. Unemployment remains very high, particularly youth unemployment and that poor economic performance poses a risk to the stability of our democracy.
The orientation of many speakers towards the need for effective basic services in the context of functional infrastructure and use of state funds for maintenance of infrastructure is critical in addressing the needs of people.
The commitments across various inputs from Executive members, with regards to human settlements, water and sanitation, transport and road infrastructure will be taken forward by the ANC Parliamentary Caucus in its focused oversight programme for the remaining period of the 6th Parliament.
We welcome the commitment on continued funding of education and an assessment of what is being achieved, in particular the progress in the various streams of the education system, upscaling training in artisanal skills, and promotion of technical and vocational education and training.
The work in addressing overcrowding in schools and monitoring of migration patterns of families and learners accessing education are all critical areas for the future of our country.
At the higher education level, the sheer volume of students that NSFAS today absorbs is a huge achievement whilst the transformation of tertiary education and the policy vision of the Higher Education and Training and the Post-School Education and Training Sector are taken forward.
COST OF LIVING CRISIS
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus appreciates the interventions announced in the SONA on reducing the cost of living that is making it hard for working families and the poor to make ends meet.
These include the Social Employment Fund which will recruit 50 000 participants in its next phase to undertake work for the common good, revitalised National Youth Service that will create 36 000 job opportunities, 10 000 unemployed young people to digitise more than 340 million paper-based civic records, and 140 000 small-scale farmers supported with input vouchers to buy seeds, fertilisers and equipment, providing a boost for food security.
We hope that the Minister of Finance will announce how the budget will address the cost of living crisis.
The Minister of Police demonstrated with statistical evidence the government’s successes in the fight against crime that hurts communities and weakens investor confidence.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus welcomes the amendment of the SAPS Act to strengthen the functioning of Community Policing Forums (CPFs).
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
One of the important achievements of President Ramaphosa’s 6th Administration are the concrete steps and progress made in re-invigorating our law enforcement agencies to intensify criminal prosecution of state capture networks, recovery of stolen funds and seizure of ill-gotten assets.
The strengthening of the NPA, SARS, Hawks and SIU, amongst others, has ensured that corruption networks are exposed and billions of rands have been and are being recovered. Companies and individuals who are found guilty have been compelled to pay fines and serve jail sentences.
DECORUM OF THE HOUSE
The ANC Parliament Caucus is continuing to be concerned about the challenges of maintaining the decorum of the House when the President is in Parliament.
Attempts by some minority opposition parties to deny the President his constitutional right to address the nation are inherently undemocratic, autocratic and demagogic. This reprehensible behaviour should be stopped using all relevant Rules of Parliament.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus is pleased with the inputs made by our Members of Parliament who, despite the various spurious interjections and disruption by some opposition parties, communicated a clear message to South Africans.
In setting out the government’s short, medium, and long-term plans to address the many challenges we face as a nation, our speakers reported on the progress we have made in recent years and the concrete plans for the future.
We echo the President’s call to South Africans to work together, despite our differences, to unite our country and focus on resolving our challenges.
Fixing the economy is our most pressing challenge at the moment, and is essential to progress in other areas of life.
As we wait in anticipation of the budget speech next week, we believe that the priorities articulated by the President will be funded and that the budget will ensure that no person should be left behind.
Issued by the Office of the Chief Whip, Hon. Pemmy Majodina
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