In the weeks following the State of the Nation Address (SONA),
the wheels of democracy have been turning at full speed.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s planned interventions, policies and programmes were placed under
the spotlight during two days of heated debate from members of parliament,
and during various in-depth interviews with the media.
South Africans have sought clarity on some of the key points made in the address, while others voiced new concerns and brought other issues to the table.
The SONA debate was a highly constructive platform for ironing out the uncertainty.
Advancing the lives of people Much of the debate revolved around
the issue of ensuring that government programmes benefit the people of South Africa, particularly the poor
and vulnerable. President Ramaphosa asserted that the overarching role of government programmes should be to continue improving the lives of these people.
“The programme we outlined in the SONA has at its core the needs and interests of the poor people of our country,” he stressed.
The past 25 years have heralded some major achievements for South Africa, but the President acknowledged that there are still immense challenges facing millions of South Africans.
“Although we have raised millions of people out of absolute poverty; although we have built over three million houses and provided water and electricity,
there are still more than two million families that live in informal settlements.
Nearly a third of children under the age of fi ve are stunted due to severe and long-time malnutrition,” President Ramaphosa noted.
More than seven million jobs have been created in South Af rica since the turn of democracy.
But this has not been keeping pace with the number of people entering the job market. “…we cannot continue at this rate.
This is why we are working every day to accelerate economic growth and make meaningful progress on finding work for the 9.7 million South Africans that are currently unemployed,”
said the President. The ground-breaking Youth Employment Service will be a central roleplayer in this aim,
but the President also emphasised the importance of other programmes,
such as industrial parks our townships and rural areas that are being revitalised as part of efforts to turn these into areas of economic opportunities.
He also alluded to the success of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), which will continue to expand in the coming years.
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