Sona 'encouraging', but South Africans need details of an action plan

President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening marked the start of the sixth democratic Parliament after the May general election.

But did it set the right tone? There has been a general consensus that it was big on dreams, but short on detail.

Kieno Kammies speaks to Nedbank chief economist Dennis Dykes and political analyst at the Institute for Global Dialogue, Sanusha Naidu.

Dykes says although the speech lacked detail, it's encouraging that key issues were strongly addressed.

At least there is an acknowledgement that we are in a crisis - youth unemployment he actually said this is a national emergency, a crisis. This is not the language we've seen in the past.

Dennis Dykes, Chief economist - Nedbank

Dykes singles out the president's 'relentless' focus on growth and the need to remove policy impediments holding back investment.

The key is in those couple of phrases. We've got to remove policy impediment - one example is the visa crisis. In the September plan he said it would take a couple of months, we're sitting now just shy of a year later and nothing's happened. This is something that administratively, could be done in a few days.

Dennis Dykes, Chief economist - Nedbank

Dykes emphasizes that this "easy stuff" has to be dealt with quickly, while the more "difficult" issues such as education, must be addressed urgently. He says for instance that the speech did not set out how the problems in our education system would be resolved.

Dykes expresses disappointment that the president did not utilise his right to appoint two ministers who are not Members of Parliament, to full advantage.

It would have been a prime opportunity to take someone out of the business sector, someone with a really good reputation and say, ok, you're running Trade and Industry. Ebrahim Patel is a very skilled person, but he does not come at it from a business perspective.

Dennis Dykes, Chief economist - Nedbank

Naidu echoes Dyke's concerns about too little detail about an action plan to address the issues facing South Africa.

She says it's all very well to place solutions within the framework of global initiatives on social economic development, as Ramaphosa did, but do these apply to the South African context?

Unfortunately, right now, South Africans don't need all the flowery stuff. They want: what are you going to do, how are you going to do it?

Sanusha Naidu, Political analyst - Institute for Global Dialogue

It was important to be more concrete, to be more focused.

Sanusha Naidu, Political analyst - Institute for Global Dialogue

For more insights, listen to the full conversation below:


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