Reaction has been mixed to Cyril Ramaphosa’s first State of the Nation speech. In competence of delivery, in tone, and especially in a departure from the mainly-waffle of Jacob Zuma’s efforts, he scored well. However, while a lot has been flagged; a lot must now be delivered. And the farmers are not happy……
Agri SA was pleased with the support for agriculture as one of SA’s growth industries, but less so with his support for land seizure without compensation.
“Agri SA is highly concerned with the contradictory statements related to acknowledging agriculture as the biggest contributor in the past quarter in terms of economic growth and job creation, whilst in the same breath calling for the expropriation of land without compensation,” the farm lobby group protested.
“Not only does it subvert the letter and spirit of Section 25 of our National Constitution, but it also entrenches the perception that the governing party has no regard for the founding principles of our newly-founded democracy.
”The question also remains: From whom will land be expropriated and to whom will it be given? Such populist statements will do more harm than good and contradicts the underlying theme of the State of the Nation Address to grow the sector through investment to unleash its fullest potential.
“Agri SA, therefore, appeals to the President to rather desist from such populist rhetoric and to engage with the commercial agricultural industry to find amicable solutions to the land question.
“Undermining the notion of private ownership and still expecting the private sector to enthusiastically embrace partnerships between themselves and the state will not happen.”
Said Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton: “It has been a refreshing change to have a SONA without walkouts, without security personnel removing members, without signal jamming and most importantly, without a president whose words, especially about tackling corruption, rang hollow.
“President Ramaphosa’s appointment could come to symbolise government’s commitment to reversing the damage done under the Zuma years if the actions required to stamp out the erosion of good governance are taken with speed. The mood of optimism must not be allowed to dim again.“
The SA Institute of Race Relations expressed concern that the speech contained many promises but little detail.
It said: “On the fundamental challenge facing the country – the state of the economy – he proposed much but explained little. He spoke of a jobs summit. He gave no details.
“He spoke of “reindustrializing” the manufacturing sector in a way that would create “millions of jobs”. He gave no details.
“He spoke of creating “new industrial hubs”. He gave no details.
“He spoke of creating a “new generation of black and women producers”. He provided no details.
“He spoke of “opening up the market”. He provided no details.
“He spoke of “radical economic transformation” and the goals that flowed from it. He provided no details.
“He spoke of moving young South Africans “to the centre of our economy”. He provided no details.
“He spoke of “taking steps” to this effect. He provided no details.
“President Ramaphosa spoke of “revitalizing the mining sector”. He said he would work with all stakeholders, create jobs, provide a new path, intensify relationships, work together “in a genuine partnership” to seek a better understanding of the mining charter. He provided no details.”