SONA 2019 is more credible but ambitious
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes President Ramaphosa’s SONA as a more credible, believable and nation-building speech than we have been used to hearing over the last decade, but that was to be expected.
While this gives us hope for much-needed solutions, the test will be in the implementation of these rather ambitious plans.
We are encouraged that corruption fighting now has more substantial support, which gives economic growth and job creation a better chance. We are, however, wary of grand promises on jobs, housing and education – particularly in an election year – which have been made and broken too many times in the past.
We welcome the President’s promises to rebuild state institutions damaged by capture and corruption, his support for the various commissions, and his encouragement for prosecutions and the urgent recovery of stolen state funds. This is long overdue.
“South Africa is tired of lip service when it comes to combating corruption and building the economy,” says OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.
“We are still waiting to see action against prominent state-capture ringleaders, including some who still hold senior positions in Government. We need to see their urgent removal,” adds Duvenage.
OUTA welcomes the prioritisation of Eskom’s recovery, but calls on the finance-lending houses to play their part in restructuring the loans and finding solutions to Eskom’s predicament. After all, they were part of the problem in taking up unnecessary bonds purely because they were backed by Government guarantees. In addition, while splitting Eskom into three separate units (generation, transmission and distribution) is a good start, retaining these under a single Eskom Holdings company seems a little like rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship. We welcome the call for Eskom to cut costs significantly and develop a new business model, as OUTA has for years called for these.
We believe it is necessary to get behind the President’s plans of nation-building, but it is equally important for civil society to remain vigilant and challenge Government to right-size its Cabinet, remove economically restrictive policies and to become more efficient in the use of taxpayers’ money and rule in the best interests of the public.