President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his state of the nation address on Thursday night. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his state of the nation address on Thursday night. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

In this edition of the Business Day Spotlight, we look at some key business and economic takeaways from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) for the year.   

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined in studio by Annabel Bishop, chief economist at Investec and Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana, head of global markets research at RMB to discuss the issues.

Ramaphosa delivered his fourth Sona on Thursday night in a tense and frustrated atmosphere after repeated disruptions by the EFF delayed proceedings for more than 90 minutes.

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The conversations starts with struggling power utility Eskom, an issue the president quickly admitted in his speech is dire and needs to be addressed. Given the rampant load-shedding across the country, this is an issue the whole nation was likely waiting to get clarity on.

The panel agrees that Ramaphosa was quite upfront in addressing the problems the country faces, particularly in the area of electricity generation, and that it is encouraging that he chose to take a direct stance on the matter instead of trying to minimise it.

SA should not succumb to “the many difficult and protracted problems that confront us”, but rather confront them to place the economy “on a path of inclusive growth”, he said. 

The discussion then moves to the issue of public finances. The main question is how is the state going to fund the programmes that need to be run to grow the economy and reduce the unemployment highlighted in the Sona.

Ramkhelawan-Bhana says it was interesting to hear the president making reference to a sovereign wealth fund and a state bank. Given the current state of public finances, she says these issues will definitely require further discussion in parliament before they can be implemented.

Bishop says it was good to see and hear the president addressing issues to increase the ease of doing business in SA, as this is an important consideration for driving investment in the country.  

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