Cyril Ramaphosa's 2m jobs dream

Helping youth part of plan for next decade

President Cyril Ramaphosa makes a point during his state of the nation address in parliament on Thursday
President Cyril Ramaphosa makes a point during his state of the nation address in parliament on Thursday
Image: Esa Alexander

Two-million new jobs will be created for young people over the next decade, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his state of the nation address on Thursday night.

Working with the private sector, which has committed investments worth R840bn in 43 projects, South Africans can look forward to 155,000 jobs over the next five years, he said.

The two-million-jobs target was one of five fundamental goals Ramaphosa announced for the next decade.

The other goals are:

● Ensuring that no person in South Africa goes hungry;

● Having an economy that grows at a faster rate than the population;

● Halving violent crime; and

● Ensuring that every 10-year-old is able to read for meaning.

Ramaphosa, who spoke at length about Eskom, also announced yet another bailout for the troubled utility, saying “a significant portion” of the R230bn it needs over the next 10 years would be allocated.

A special appropriation bill would be tabled on an urgent basis, he said.

“This we must do because Eskom is too vital to our economy to be allowed to fail.”

Finance minister Tito Mboweni would provide details in due course.

Ramaphosa said loadshedding in April had hit the economy hard.

“Eskom is facing serious financial, operational and structural problems,” he said.

“With the current committed funding from the government, outlined in the 2019 budget, Eskom has sufficient cash to meet its obligations until the end of October 2019.”

Ramaphosa said a new CEO would be announced following Phakamani Hadebe’s resignation.

A chief restructuring officer, who will be expected to reposition Eskom financially with careful attention to the mix between revenue, debt and cost structure of the company, would also be appointed.

He said Eskom was working with the government and other stakeholders to address its overall debt as well the debt owed by municipalities and individual users.

“As a country, we must assert the principle that those who use electricity must pay for it.

“Failure to pay endangers our entire electricity supply, our economy and our efforts to create jobs,” he said.

“The days of boycotting payment are over.

“This is the time to build, it is the time for all of us to make our own contribution.”

Clad in a black suit and red tie, made by local designers House of Monatic in Cape Town, Ramaphosa lamented as a crisis the fact that the youth unemployment rate in South Africa was sitting above 50%.

He announced plans to expand the National Youth Service to take on 50,000 young people a year.

“It is essential that we proceed without delay to implement a comprehensive plan – driven and co-ordinated from the presidency – to create no fewer than two-million new jobs for young people within the next decade.

“This plan will work across government departments and all three tiers of government, in partnership with the private sector.

“We are already working with the private sector to create pathways into work for young people through scaling up existing pathway management networks.

“These are networks that allow young people who opt in increased visibility, network support and opportunities to signal their availability for jobs and self-employment,” he said.

SONA took place in Cape Town on June 20 2019 and in the Presidents speech, he had many plans for South Africa. What stood out for many South Africans was his seven key priorities.

To keep up with technological advancements, Ramaphosa announced that subjects such as coding and data analytics would be introduced as subjects in primary schools.

“We will expand our hi-tech industry by ensuring that the legal and regulatory framework promotes innovation, scaling up skills development for young people in new technologies and reducing data costs.

“Wherever we have gone, young people have continuously raised the issue of the excessively high data costs in SA.

“To provide impetus to this process, within the next month, the minister of communications will issue the policy direction to Icasa to commence the spectrum licensing process.

“This process will include measures to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and universal access.

“This is a vital part of bringing down the costs of data, which is essential both for economic development and for unleashing opportunities for young people.

Delivering his third Sona, at a scaled-down event that cost under R2m, he said of the R300bn investments announced at the inaugural investment conference in 2018, R250bn worth of projects had entered the implementation phase.

“If we are to be internationally competitive, if we are to attract investment, we must address the high cost of doing

business and complicated and lengthy regulatory processes.

“We must reach a point where no company need wait more than six months for a permit or licence and new companies should be able to be registered within a day.

“We will continue to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing port export tariffs, pursuing lowest-cost electricity generation options, and making rail transport more competitive and efficient,” he said.

On land, Ramaphosa said the government would accelerate efforts to identify and release public land suitable for smart, urban settlements and for farming.

Turning to corruption, he said the decisive steps taken to end state capture and fight corruption by strengthening the NPA, SIU, Sars and State Security were yielding results.

“We have asked the national director of public prosecutions [Shamila Batohi] to develop a plan to significantly increase the capacity and effectiveness of the NPA, including to ensure effective asset forfeiture.

“We need to ensure that public money stolen is returned and used to deliver services and much-needed basic infrastructure to the poorest communities,” he said.

“We expect that the new SIU Special Tribunal will start its work within the next few months to fast-track civil claims arising from SIU investigations, which are currently estimated to be around R14.7bn.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa tackled numerous issues during his State of the nation address on June 20 2019. From recouping money lost to State Capture, Eskom’s continuous woes to youth unemployment and Investment into South Africa - here’s all you need to know from Ramaphosa’s Sona address.