Mmusi Maimane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

President Cyril Ramaphosa will find himself in a tough position when he delivers the state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane says.

Ramaphosa will deliver his Sona against a downbeat economic backdrop, and is expected to provide legislative and regulatory clarity during the address.

There is uncertainty about land reform amid fears that expropriation without compensation will discourage investment and undermine SA’s efforts to address the triple challenge of unemployment‚ poverty‚ and inequality.

There are concerns about crisis-hit Eskom, which is regarded as the biggest risk to the economy. Investors are also worried about the push to change the ownership and mandate of the Reserve Bank.

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“We live in a bleak economic time amid deep political uncertainty where Reserve Bank independence, healthcare and property rights are consistently under threat,” Maimane said in parliament on Tuesday as he provided an update on the progress made by DA-led municipalities.

He said the biggest challenge facing the country today is its “self-made economic crisis — a situation that has only deteriorated further since the May 8 election. We cannot begin to imagine a strong, vibrant and prosperous SA while unemployment has just hit a record high of 38%, with 9.9-million people without a job, most of these young people."

Economic growth contracted by 3.2% during the first months of this year — the biggest decline in a decade — and the rand remains extremely volatile “as the ANC continues its assault on the independence of the Reserve Bank”, said Maimane.

Reserve Bank shockwaves

Earlier in June, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule sent shockwaves through SA when he announced that the party would expand the mandate of the Reserve Bank and explore the use of quantitative easing to deal with government debt.

However, the head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee, Enoch Godongwana, later issued a statement contradicting Magashule’s assertions, in effect further underscoring the ANC’s policy incoherence on the matter and creating uncertainty.

“It has never been more important that the DA-led Western Cape province, City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane provide a beacon of confidence and certainty against these economic and political headwinds,” said Maimane.

He said that despite the depressed economic and governance environment, DA-led governments are a “step ahead — spearheading innovative plans and policies that are fast yielding positive results for the citizens living under these governments”.

“The DA has a vision for cities where city-led economic growth occupies the future of SA. Beyond supplying citizens with energy, water and basic services, our cities need to be at the centre of sustainable development because they are directly accountable to the people, and best placed to make decisions around infrastructure investment.” 

He said the DA will continue to work with Ramaphosa as long as he acts in the best interest of the people of SA, noting that creating an enabling environment for job creation, winning the war on crime, acting decisively against corruption, delivering basic services and professionalising the state should be first on the president’s Sona agenda.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za