10 Feb

UASA Media Release: 10 February 2023

Statement by Abigail Moyo, spokesperson of the trade union UASA:

After yet another disappointing, feel-so-good, no-action-plan State of the Nation Address (SONA) by Pres Cyril Ramaphosa, we are left with the feeling that we have heard it all before.

South Africans know the state of the nation. We live it daily – load shedding, water outages, poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, corruption, empty promises. What we need are jobs and a functioning economy, not talk about hope and resilience.

In the past, we might have said, “Our hope is in you, Mr President”, but unfortunately, we are way beyond that point. We demand the dignity of South Africans in despair due to the maladministration and failures of your officials on all government levels be restored. We are not sure we can deduce such a result from what we heard in tonight’s SONA.

Energy crisis

Ramaphosa said it himself: In July last year, he announced five key interventions to address the energy crisis and the electricity shortfall of 4 000MW to 6 000MW. Instead, the situation worsened.

Now we face yet another waste of taxpayers’ money as Ramaphosa make promises of government assisting Eskom in securing additional funding for diesel. Eskom has been helped numerous times to no avail. Yet, we are going down that road again with no guarantee that these “solutions” will be implemented decisively, let alone solve anything.

Declaring a national disaster to tackle the energy crisis is merely another ploy to loot taxpayers’ funds and exercise undue control over citizens’ lives. A Minister of Electricity in the Presidency will bring nothing that Eskom and other energy specialists have not yet suggested.

The good

Just transitioning to carbon emission at a pace our country can afford is a step in the right direction. A just energy transition plan of R1.5 trillion is also to be welcomed. Done right, it can open up new investments, new industrialisation and create new jobs.

Youth unemployment. UASA takes note of the Employment Tax Incentive, which has been expanded to encourage businesses to hire more young people. The R1.4 billion financing to assist over 90 000 job-creating entrepreneurs is good news.

UASA calls on the leaders dealing with the funding process to ensure that deserving candidates are chosen and that the looting of funds is prevented.
Upskilling. Allocating the National Skills Fund R800 million to develop skills in the digital and technology sector by linking payment for training to employment outcomes will benefit youth working in scarce skills sectors.

SAPS. Recruiting 10 000 personnel to combat the high crime levels is a welcome decision. Hopefully, this will also help to combat gender-based violence and femicide, which has women and children living in fear.

The bad

Temporary job creation. Employing 50 000 participants in the Social Employment Fund and 10 000 unemployed young people to digitise more than 340 million paper-based civic records is a temporary solution to our massive unemployment crisis. We need sustainable and practical solutions to job creation.

Grants. Using 60% of the government budget to offer various forms of support to the jobless does not give them back their dignity. Those resources should be utilised for job creation so that the 7.8 million people depending on the Distress Grant can have proper jobs and income. It is becoming an unbearable burden on the working class to carry such a vast population.

SOEs. Not enough is done to prevent corruption and looting of funds or to enable SOEs to provide the basic services they are mandated to deliver. Although 187 accused persons in 32 state capture and corruption cases have been taken to court, none have been arrested or found guilty. Instead, the disgraceful looting continues unabated while politicians protect each other and benefit from it.

Dysfunctional municipalities. Due to poor governance, and ineffective and corrupt financial and administrative management, municipalities can only offer collapsing infrastructure and poor or no service delivery. How do we expect our nation to improve without the basic services they pay for?

Reliable water supply and efficient transport and road infrastructure systems are crucial in any economy. Tragically, South Africa is running on despair as almost everything the state manages lies in ruins. We can only hope that the significant infrastructure projects by the Department of Water and Sanitation will go ahead as planned. Water outages are as debilitating to private citizens and businesses as electricity blackouts.

With the Minister of Finance to table the National Budget later this month, we can only hope for realistic and constructive plans for a better South Africa.

For further enquiries or to set up a personal interview, contact Abigail Moyo at 065 170 0162.

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