DA leader John Steenhuisen arrives ahead of the state of the nation address at parliment in Cape Town, February 13 2020. Picture: RODGER BOSCH / AFP
DA leader John Steenhuisen arrives ahead of the state of the nation address at parliment in Cape Town, February 13 2020. Picture: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa made some moves in the right direction in terms of Eskom and SA’s electricity crisis during his state of the nation address, but stopped short of what was required, DA leader John Steenhuisen said on Thursday.

Ramaphosa delivered his fourth state of the nation address after a delay of almost an hour and a half due to disruptions by the EFF, which resulted in the sitting being suspended for a short while.

Ramaphosa's address focused on the economy and spent a significant part of it dealing with cash-strapped power utility Eskom, which is the biggest threat to SA’s economy.

As part of the measures to rapidly increase electricity generation outside Eskom, Ramaphosa said the government had put in place measures to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers.

Steenhuisen said while Ramaphosa had presented some good ideas he had not been nearly bold enough to be able to deal with the many crises facing the country.

He welcomed the fact that municipalities would be able to source power directly from independent power producers but believed that it was a “mad idea” to try to resuscitate Eskom in its current form. It required a completely new model, he believed.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had presented the right ideas about addressing youth unemployment but had not offered any concrete plans on how to get the private sector to partner with government to provide work opportunities. The president had not announced any stimulus measures such as  tax breaks for businesses to take on unskilled workers or school leavers and had not announced any concrete plans to create jobs for the people who have been trained.

“Unfortunately for the president that lies with the private sector, not with government.”

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had not dealt adequately with the low rate of economic growth and had rather played to his party and not for the country, which was why he had displayed little decisiveness over SAA.

“He glossed over it. I think he kicked for touch on SAA again.”

COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota felt that Ramaphosa was too optimistic and had not confronted the grim realities facing the country.

“As I listened to him speaking about the situation in the country and what they are going to do I wondered whether we were talking about the same country. It is a disastrous situation. I want someone who can talk to the realities of our situation,” he said.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said everything Ramaphosa said sounded good but he believed he had overpromised which called into doubt whether he could manage it all.