Sona reaction: DA says Ramaphosa 'not bold enough', while ANC says SA 'moving in the right direction'

Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen said President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address did not quite hit the mark.

“Some good ideas, but not bold enough or far-reaching enough to do the trick,” was Steenhuisen's summary of the address.

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Steenhuisen, speaking to SABC, said that, when it came to Eskom in particular, Ramaphosa “didn’t go nearly far enough”.

While he welcomed the focus on youth unemployment, Steenhuisen said that there were “very few details”.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen and his wife, Terry, ahead of the state of the nation address.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen and his wife, Terry, ahead of the state of the nation address.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

His colleague, chief whip Natasha Mazzone, added: “I think that where we fell short is no definitive timelines were given. We need electricity now and there is no reason we should not be procuring this by tomorrow. Timelines would have given more confidence to SA.”

Speaking to eNCA, she added that it was worrying that Ramaphosa only touched on the issue of SAA.

“When it comes to SAA, every civil servant is worried whether their pension fund will be used to bail out those companies,” she said.

COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota was surprised at the level of enthusiasm Ramaphosa showed.

“The president seems to have a tremendous amount of optimism, given the state of economy and difficulties we are faced with. I could not see how he could see the economy turning about and begin to promise us that, in the next six months, or in the next this, something will happen, and so on.

“He’s given us a whole lot of promises, optimistic developments and so on ... but they really do not match the experience which one has been having in this country. There’s no growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, ANC MP Paul Mashatile said the ruling party was “very happy” with the address.

“It is clear that there is going to be a lot of action. The president spoke of a lot of plans, including the strengthening of SOEs, support of young entrepreneurs and female-owned businesses. We are moving in the right direction,” he told eNCA.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi also told eNCA that it was going to take “all of us working together” to achieve success.

“Ours is to say, 'How do we find solutions to Eskom?' If Eskom fails, we all fail. It is critical that we all find solutions, not only in Eskom but in Telkom too,” she said.

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said: “As far as I am concerned, the president is a lame duck.”

He said there was no clarity on Eskom, and criticised Ramaphosa for “continuing” with National Health Insurance and land expropriation without compensation — and added that it was not necessary to have a state bank.

The ACDP's Rev Kenneth Meshoe said: “We are happy that municipalities that are financially viable will be able to procure electricity straight from independent power producers.”

However, he was not as complimentary about Ramaphosa's statement that government was taking corruption seriously.

“Until there are arrests and prosecutions of politicians, we will continue to believe that government is not serious about fighting corruption,” he said.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said Ramaphosa's Sona was a “wonderful statement”.

“He [Ramaphosa] focused on issues affecting ordinary people, issues of water ... water licences, registration of companies and the skills revolution, which is so important. He spoke about robotics from primary school. We are once more motivated,” he said.

But the IFP’s Mangosuthu Buthelezi was not convinced.

“No-one can fault the good intentions of the president but, on his own admission, we are in trouble. The country is in trouble.”

While he said Ramaphosa’s reference to youth development was “wonderful”, he questioned where the money was going to come from.

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