The National Assembly in parliament in Cape Town. Picture: THE TIMES
The National Assembly in parliament in Cape Town. Picture: THE TIMES

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday amid pressure to turn around SA’s ailing state-owned enterprises, most notably broke power utility Eskom. 

Exactly two years after Ramaphosa delivered his first Sona after Jacob Zuma was forced to resign by the governing ANC, the “Ramaphoria” optimism has all but evaporated as the realities faced by SA have hit home. 

The annual address to the nation is delivered to a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament and brings together all three arms of the state, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It marks the official opening of parliament. The occasion is used to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters in domestic and global contexts. It also updates the nation on progress with government commitments and outlines the government’s programme of action for the new financial year.

When the address is delivered on Thursday Eskom’s new CEO André de Ruyter will be just more than a month in the job, already having  indicated that load-shedding will continue as the power utility focuses on maintenance. Meanwhile, the executive has raised issues with decisions taken by the business rescue practitioners appointed to turn around destitute national carrier SAA.

On top of the problems with ailing SOEs, the economic prospects are dire for 2020. The World Bank has revised down its economic growth outlook for SA to below 1% for 2020 due to concerns about power supply.

Speaker of the national assembly Thandi Modise has extended the deadline for nominations from political parties for the independent panel of experts that is to assess the motion to remove public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The deadline initially was last Friday, but several requests were made for more time. 

Once the speaker has received the names she will establish the panel. It will then have 30 days to conduct and finalise a preliminary assessment of the motion proposing Mkhwebane’s removal from office and make a recommendation to the speaker. Modise has said she will oppose a court application by Mkhwebane, filed last week, to challenge the constitutionality of the rules that were adopted in 2020 to challenge the removal of the head of a Chapter Nine institution. 

The focus will remain on parliament during the week, with 10 parliamentary committee meetings to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The select committee on trade & industry, economic development, small business development, tourism, employment and labour will consider submissions on the National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill on Tuesday.

The portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development will be briefed by the department of agriculture, land reform & rural development on the assessment of court judgments that have a bearing on its legislative programme.  

Gwen Ngwenya, the DA’s head of policy, will address the Cape Town Press Club on Monday. She will discuss the official opposition’s policy proposals ahead of the DA’s first policy conference in April.

The SACP’s deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, will be at the press club on Friday to respond to Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address on Thursday.

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