“We gather today exactly 106 years since the introduction of the Native Land Act,” said President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). This was his first since becoming the president of the Republic of South Africa. It was his second SONA in less than five months. This is what the president had to say.
Ramaphosa didn’t give any updates on the land except to say he has received the report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture. This report will be presented to Cabinet for consideration.
“The panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme,” said Ramaphosa
He promised that the government will accelerate efforts to “identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements and for farming.”
He also confirmed that over R3.9 billion has been allocated to the Land Bank to support black commercial farmers. This is per the medium budget allocations.
“In the next 10 years, we want a South Africa with better education outcomes,” said Ramaphosa. He said there should be an improvement of 10-year-old school children “reading for meaning”. He also addressed the ongoing school violence affecting children around the country. He called for this violence to be “halved” in the next ten years.
“Together with all the nations of the world, we are confronted by the most devastating change in global climate in human history.”
“We heard the voices of young people who marched to this building last week asking us to take action on protecting the planet,” Ramaphosa said. He was referring to the march by school children around the country calling for the government to take climate change more seriously.
Ramaphosa admitted the slowing economy and high levels of inequality affects young men and women and students around the country. The president promised to improve job creation.
He admitted that the fact that “the unemployment rate among young South Africans is more than 50% is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions.”
He promised in speech to proceed with the implementation of a comprehensive plan “to create no fewer than two million new jobs for young people within the next decade.”
Ramaphosa said partnerships would be formed between all three tiers of government and the private sector to form 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. They make sure that youth from poorer households – and young women in particular – are empowered to take up the new opportunities.”
Students have been protesting throughout the year for an increase in student accommodation. Ramaphosa said the infrastructure development plan includes a special package to boost student accommodation through “a more efficient use of budgeted money.”
“We are far advanced in revising the National Health Insurance,” said Ramaphosa adding that the detailed plan of implementation will be completed including accelerating quality of care initiatives in public facilities and building human resource capacity.
Just hours before Ramaphosa delivered his speech, it was revealed that seven nurses were made to care of around 80 pregnant patients at a hospital in Tembisa. In a statement released by the Gauteng Health Department, they said admitting more patients than the ward space was not ideal. “However, the demand and increase in the burden of diseases makes this unavoidable,” said the statement.
Ramaphosa raised concerns about the rising HIV infection rates “particularly among young women, and the relatively low numbers of men testing for HIV and starting treatment.”
In 2018, women and gender non-conforming people from around the country marched to end gender-based violence and femicide. Ramaphosa said they are working “with civil society organisations on strategies to end gender-based violence and femicide.”
He announced that after consultations and engagements, the government is working to establish “Gender Based Violence and Femicide Council and a National Strategic Plan that will guide all of us, wherever we are, in our efforts to eradicate this national scourge.” This plan forms part of the 25 demands that were presented to the Ramaphosa by the Total Shutdown movement
Ramaphosa also said government are “capacitating and equipping the police and court system to support survivors of gender-based violence.”
Check out the full speech here