Sona: Ramaphosa needs to choose state before party — Steenhuisen

“Choose state not party” was the message the Democratic Alliance sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, days before he is set to deliver the State of the Nation address (Sona) this Thursday. 

DA leader John Steenhuisen delivered his own version of Sona on Monday. In his speech, Steenhuisen characterised ways in which the Ramaphosa-led government has fallen short during the past two years.

In his 12-page address, Steenhuisen called for Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to throw out what he termed an “outdated 20th century ideology of state control”, so as to loosen the state’s grip on the economy and allow the private sector to thrive. 

Mboweni will deliver his much-anticipated budget speech days after Ramaphosa’s Sona address. The finance minister will lay out how the state envisions South Africa’s economic recovery at a time that it is faced with the challenge of vaccine funding. 

Ramaphosa had indicated in his address at the ANC lekgotla in January that public borrowing may be one of the options governments turns to as a means to fund the Covid-19 vaccine. He also stated that much of the vaccine funding would be derived from the country’s fiscus. 

Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane had, however, stated that a tax hike could be another option to fund the vaccine, in comments he made when speaking to the media in January

“They’re going to have to choose between either bending the knee to the unions, or embracing labour reforms to make South Africa an attractive investment destination. They’re going to have to choose between spiralling national debt with the prospect of a default looming on the horizon, or a debt-stabilisation programme to cap this at a manageable level,” the DA leader said. 

Steenhuisen has also lambasted Ramaphosa for failing to address the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, which has been at the centre of many corruption allegations in government. 

Accepting responsibility 

In his speech, Steenhuisen — who cites Ramaphosa as one of the drivers of cadre deployment, having been the head of the ANC’s cadre deployment committee from 2014 to 2018 — adds that during this time some of the “very worst appointments” were made at state-owned enterprises, causing corruption to skyrocket.

“It is imperative that Ramaphosa answers the questions we sent to the Zondo commission. South Africans need to know what his role was in the capture of the state, and where he stands on the policy today,” Steenhuisen said. 

“He will need to accept responsibility for every deployment that happened on his watch. Once he has done this, he will have a chance to denounce the practice and inform South Africans that he intends to guide his party towards a true meritocracy, free from political manipulation,” he added.

Steenhuisen also took aim at ANC secretary general Ace Magashule’s statement last week, in which he defended former president Jacob Zuma’s intention to disobey the Constitutional Court judgment that he appear before the state capture commission. 

The DA leader went on to call Ramaphosa out for failing to address statements by Magashule. 

“In the absence of a statement from the president, people will fill in the blanks themselves. And the only inference to be drawn from this is that the ANC itself supports Zuma in snubbing the Zondo commission, the Constitutional Court, and the rule of law. If that’s not the case, then Ramaphosa needs to set the record straight,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA has long advocated for independent power producers to play a larger role to allow more healthy competition in the energy market. 

The party said its municipality in Stellenbosch will next week be taking active steps to challenge the government’s slow pace in opening up the energy market to independent power producers, and demonstrate that they have the capability and resources to move away from Ekom dependence.

“Consumers wishing to go off-grid or utilise grid-tied own generation are disincentivised by unnecessary registration processes and costs. The DA has shown how a tax rebate of R75 000 for rooftop solar could result in demand reduction [from the grid] of up to 3GW in three years,” the party said.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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