President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a broad spectrum of plans to clean up government and root out corruption in the executive – including lifestyle audits, an imminent Cabinet reshuffle and a process to review the size and number of departments.
Ramaphosa, who was welcomed to the podium with a standing ovation – even from members of the DA – insisted "We have a plan", and also spoke extensively on land redistribution, the economy, gender equality and state-owned enterprises.
He was responding to a debate on the state of the nation address (Sona) which he delivered last week.
SIZE OF GOVERNMENT
"These changes will obviously only happen when we have gone through the review process and gathered the evidence we need to gather. Changes of this nature need to be well considered ... they should not be made in haste," he said.
"This review, which we expect to take a number of months, will be based on a thorough analysis of the suitability and the costs of the existing configuration. It will involve broad consultation so that the views of a broad range of stakeholders are considered, so that South Africans understand the full rationale for the decisions that we are ultimately going to take in this regard."
Ramaphosa on Land Reform: We won't allow smash and grab interventions. We will handle it with responsibility. In a way that won't damage the economy. #SoNAReply— Lester Kiewit (@lesterkk) February 20, 2018
He also hinted at an imminent Cabinet reshuffle.
"On the matter of the composition of the Cabinet, an announcement will be made at the appropriate time," he said.
Ramaphosa said lifestyle audits will be conducted on all people who "occupy positions of responsibility".
"That is something I believe we have to do, and this will be done starting with the executive of the country. The commissioner of police has also said that the high echelons of the police will also go through lifestyle audits," he said.
Ramaphosa emphasised that his plan for economic recovery will focus on the National Development Plan. He spoke about holding a job summit, in accordance with demands from trade unions, as well as a social sector summit.
Ramaphosa: White South Africans, particularly men, still dominate the economy. That cannot be denied. #SonaReply— Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM) February 20, 2018
"I would like to have the best companies in the country, in the continent and in the world to get together and make commitments on investments that will make a difference to our people ... I am confident that we can move with urgency and purpose to forge a new social compact, to revive our economy, to create jobs and reduce inequality," he said.
"Unemployment among Africans stands at 30 percent and just under seven percent for white people... That is the reality born out of evidence. White South Africans, particularly men, still dominate at senior levels of the economy. Those who have reversed are black people, and we need to keep that in mind as we deal with problems in our country."
Ramaphosa referred to the "stealing" of land as the "original sin" committed in South Africa.
"The return of the land to the people from whom it was taken speaks to precisely what we need to do to heal the divisions of the past – whether we like it or not, that pain persists. We need to interrogate the statement that expropriation without compensation on land is incompatible with a growing and flourishing economy ... The expropriation of land without compensation is envisaged as one of the measures to redistribute land to black South Africans," he said.
Watching President Ramaphosa's comprehensive reply to SONA makes me wonder how the Opposition are going to have any issues left to smack him with.— Simon Grindrod (@SimonPGrindrod) February 20, 2018
He's covered everything from land, Life-Style Audits for himself and the Cabinet, crime, economic growth, corruption.#SONAReply
"We need to see and locate this measure within a broad comprehensive land-distribution and agricultural programme ... We will not make the mistakes that others have made when it came to the question of land ... We will not allow smash-and-grab interventions."
Ramaphosa said government is developing an overarching SOE strategy to support the growth trajectory of SOEs.
"We will soon be completing work on a new centralised-ownership model that will allow for better strategic alignment, improved coordination and more effective oversight. It is proposed that this include a state-owned company coordinating council [that] will be chaired by the president, responsible for high-level strategic direction," he said.
"A new ownership model will incorporate new methods for funding SOEs, which could include a shift toward a greater mix of debt and equity finance. Where circumstances are suitable and where the developmental function of an SOE is not compromised, there may be opportunities to involve strategic equity partners as minority investors in some of our SOEs."
[HEALING FOR #MARIKANA] Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa commits to "play whatever role I can" to ensure "healing and atonement" for the tragic events of August 2012, when 44 people were killed between the period 12-16 August during a strike at platinum miner #Lonmin. pic.twitter.com/CKZxbTl7jh— Xoli Mngambi (@XoliMngambi) February 20, 2018
For the first time as president, Ramaphosa acknowledged government's role in the Marikana Massacre.
"We must be prepared as government to acknowledge that where we have failed, we will take steps to correct those mistakes. One of such was the Marikana tragedy. Members will recall that the commission of inquiry which investigated the direct and root causes of the tragedy," he said.
"Notwithstanding the findings of the Farlam Commission, I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement for what happened in Marikana, and in this I am guided by the needs and the wishes of the families of the 34 workers who lost their lives."