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Key Announcements in SA’s State of the Nation Address

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered South Africa’s State of the Nation address last night, and announced a number of changes for the country going forward. Among them are plans to attract foreign direct investment, improve the quality of education, and resolve Eskom’s (the country’s power utility) debt crisis. The date of the 2019 general election was also announced; 8 May. Key announcements are outlined below.

Eskom will be split in three

Government plans to “immediately embark” on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings. “The consequences may be painful, but they will be even more devastating if we delay,” Ramaphosa said.

‘Investment books’ will be compiled for each province

Following the success of the 2018 investment conference which attracted over in R300 billion in investment, Ramaphosa said a second conference will be held in 2019. Investment in South Africa should be spread out in projects throughout the country, Ramaphosa said. “In this regard, I have asked provincial governments to identify investable projects and ensure that we build investment books for each of our nine provinces to present to potential investors,” Ramaphosa said.

A new target to improve South Africa’s ease-of-doing-business ranking

Ramaphosa said the World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report currently ranks South Africa 82 out of 190 countries tracked. The state aims to be among the 50 global performers within the next three years, Ramaphosa said. A team from the Presidency, Invest SA, National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation will address the policy, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers that frustrate investors.

A requirement for work experience will be dropped in the public sector

It is important that more youth be absorbed into South Africa’s labour market, Ramaphosa said. The government would, therefore, do away with entry-level work experience requirement in the public sector. “Our young people need to be given a real head start in the world of work,” he said.

Release of state-owned land for human settlements

Ramaphosa said as part of accelerated land reform, the government identified land parcels owned by the state for redistribution. Strategically located land will be released to address human settlements needs in urban and peri-urban areas, he said.

Introduction of eVisa regime

The South African government will introduce a “world class” eVisa regime in 2019 to assist in growing the local tourism sector, Ramaphosa said. The goal is reach 21 million tourists by 2030, up from 10 million in 2018. Instead of applying for a South African visa at an embassy, prospective visitors will be able to apply for an eVisa online and the final visa can be printed at home.

New gas and oil legislation after the Brulpadda boon

Following Total’s discovery of “world-class” oil and gas in the Brulpadda field off the coast of South Africa, Ramaphosa said the government will develop legislation to ensure that it is properly regulated for the interests of all concerned. “We are extremely encouraged by the report this morning about the Brulpadda block in the Outeniqua Basin, which some have described as a catalytic find. This could well be a game-changer for our country and will have significant consequences for our country’s energy security…”, ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe stated.

New infrastructure implementation model

Ramaphosa said Cabinet has adopted a new infrastructure implementation model to ensure projects are implemented. He said the new model is underpinned by the new Infrastructure Fund announced in September last year. Ramaphosa said government has committed to contribute R100 billion into the Infrastructure Fund over a 10-year period and use this to leverage financing from the private sector and development finance institutions. “As a first step, we will expand projects underway already, such as student accommodation.”

Eradicate unsafe school toilets within 3 years

Ramaphosa expressed deep sadness at the tragic deaths of Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo in 2014, and Lumka Mkethwa, from Luna Junior Primary School in the Eastern Cape, who lost her life in March last year. He said the government has since August already provided safe and appropriate sanitation to 699 schools, with sanitation at a further 1,150 schools either in planning, design or construction stages. Government identified that nearly 4,000 schools require appropriate sanitation, and hopes to eradicate unsafe sanitation by 2022.

Compulsory early development for all children

The responsibility of early childhood development centres are being migrated from the social development department to basic education, Ramaphosa said. He said during the migration the government will proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory early childhood development for all children before they enter grade 1. “This is essential in equipping children to succeed in education, in work and in life – and it is possibly the single most important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality,” Ramaphosa said.

Access to a tablet for every pupil by 2025

“Over the next six years, we will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device,” Ramaphosa said. He said government will start with the schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and are located in the poorest communities, including farm and rural schools.

New technology subjects, and technical high schools

Ramaphosa said several new technology subjects and specialisations will be introduced into basic education such as technical mathematics and technical sciences, maritime sciences, aviation studies, mining sciences, and aquaponics. Several “ordinary” state schools will also be transformed into technical high schools, he said.

A new bank for housing

If the South African government is to effectively address the substantial housing backlog it needs to develop different models of financing for human settlements, Ramaphosa said. Therefore a new human settlements development bank will be established to leverage both public and private sector financing to aid in housing delivery. He said the state’s housing development agency will construct an additional 500,000 housing units in the next five years..

No taverns, shebeens and liquor outlets near schools

Ramaphosa promised the complete shutdown of all taverns, shebeens and liquor outlets near schools as the country deals with extremely high levels of substance abuse. “South Africa has extremely high levels of substance abuse, which feeds crime and violence against women and children, it deepens poverty and causes great hardship and pain for families. As government, we continue to roll out interventions to address social ills tearing our communities apart, such as alcoholism and substance abuse. Knowing, as we do, that there are strong linkages between substance abuse, drug trafficking, crime and insecurity in communities, we are focusing on tackling this problem at its source through prevention programmes targeting vulnerable persons especially our youth. We are resolute that all taverns, shebeens and liquor outlets near school premises must be shut down,” Ramaphosa stated.

Strengthening the focus on gender-based violence

“We will strengthen the national hotline centre that supports women who experience gender-based violence and ensure it is functional. We have listened to the call to make funds available to combat gender-based violence and have allocated funding in the current budget to support the decisions taken at the [Gender-Based Violence] Summit. Government will lead the campaign to include men and boys as active champions in the struggle against gender-based violence. Ending gender-based violence is an urgent national priority that requires the mobilisation of all South Africans and the involvement of all institutions,” Ramaphosa said.

Scorpions 2.0

Ramaphosa said he agreed with the new NPA head that an investigation directorate dealing with serious corruption and associated offences will be established as soon as possible. In broad terms, the Directorate will focus on the evidence that has emerged from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, other commissions and disciplinary inquiries, Ramaphosa said.

General election date

National elections will be held on May 8.

A war room for public health

The National Health Insurance Bill will soon be submitted to Parliament. The NHI will enable South Africans to receive free services at the point of care in public and private quality-accredited health facilities. Ramaphosa said a ‘War Room’ in the presidency has been established to improve public heallth. “We have a funded national quality health improvement plan to improve every clinic and hospital that will be contracted by the NHI.”

To read the SONA address in full, click here.

 

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Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SA Elections: Upcoming Voter Registration Weekend; ID Collection Push; and Party Funding Source Bill Signed

2019 is a general election year in South Africa, with national and provincial elections set to take place, and three important recent announcements have been made in relation to elections in the country.

Voter registration weekend

The Electoral Commission of South Africa has announced that a final voter registration weekend will take place over 26 and 27 January.

The country’s 22 932 voting stations will open from 08h00 to 17h00 on Saturday 26 January and Sunday 27 January 2019 to allow first-time voters to register and existing voters to update and to check their registration details.
Currently there are 26.1 million registered voters on the national common voters’ roll and it is hoped that at least one million voters will be added to the voters’ roll ahead of the 2019 elections.

The Electoral Commission is also hopeful that voters who are already registered will use the opportunity to visit their voting station to check their registration and specifically to confirm and update their address details.
Registered voters can visit the Electoral Commission website (www.elections.org.za) to check their current registration details and voting station location.

They can also SMS their ID number to 32810 to receive an SMS containing their registration status and the address of their voting station (charged at R1).

Unregistered voters can insert their address in the Voting Station Finder application on the website (http://maps.elections.org.za/vsfinder/) to find their correct voting station or call the Contact Centre.

An online facility (www.elections.org.za/MyIEC) is also available for registered voters with access to the internet to update and review their address online.

Identity document collection

The Home Affairs Department has called on people who have applied for identity documents (IDs) to collect it, ahead of this weekend’s voter registration.

In the Western Cape alone, more than 23,000 people have not collected their IDs. Bellville and Cape Town branches are the highest with over 3,500 uncollected IDs each.

The department says it is extending its office hours at some of the offices. Spokesperson Siya Qoza explains, “Our offices will be open from 8 am until 5 pm over the weekend to assist as many people as possible who may need assistance. Our assistance will include handing out IDs and assisting people with temporary IDs so that they can register to vote”.

Political Party Funding Bill

It’s now law for political parties to reveal their private funding annually but it’s unlikely to come into effect before this year’s elections. The Presidency confirmed late on Tuesday night that President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Political Party Funding Bill into law, which was passed by the National Assembly late last year.

But the electoral commission has already indicated to Parliament that it will need at least six months to get the system functional. Lobby group My Vote Counts, which took the matter to court, says that the implementation of the bill will drastically enhance transparency and accountability in the country’s political and electoral system.

The new legislation repeals a 1997 Act to better regulate the public and private funding of political parties. It establishes a multi-party democracy fund that will fund all political parties from state coffers.

The new law will prohibit certain donations being made directly to political parties and compel them to disclose private donations to the electoral commission. Political parties will not be allowed to accept donations from foreign governments or agencies.

The African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the law, saying it will deepen democracy and usher in a new culture of transparency. But My Vote Counts says that it is however regrettable that the law will not have an impact on this year’s elections and that the electorate will once again go to the polls without this crucial information.

The bill follows a June 2018 order by the Western Cape High Court to have Parliament make provision for political parties to publicly disclose private funding within 18 months. Judge Yasmin Meer stressed that there must be transparency about private political party funding. The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s opposition party, was the only party to oppose the application for the transparency bill.

 

 

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Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SA President Ramaphosa Announces R1.2 Trillion Investment Drive

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday evening that South Africa would host a major investment conference in August or September 2018, which would aim to raise over R1trn in new investments over five years.

“The investment conference, which will involve domestic and international investors in equal measure, is not intended merely as a forum to discuss the investment climate,” said Ramaphosa, according to his prepared notes.

He was speaking at OR Tambo International Airport, before leaving for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.

“Rather, we expect the conference to report on actual investment deals that have been concluded and to provide a platform for would-be investors to seek out opportunities in the South African market. We are determined that the conference produce results that can be quantified and quickly realised.”

Ramaphosa said government hopes that the conference would generate at least $100bn – or about R1.2trn -in new investments over the next five years.

“Given the current rates of investment, this is an ambitious but realisable target that will provide a significant boost to our economy.”

Special envoys

Ramaphosa also unveiled the names of four ‘special envoys on investment’, who he said would spend the next few months engaging both domestic and foreign investors around economic opportunities in SA.

They are former minister of finance Trevor Manuel, former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas, executive chair of the Afropulse Group Phumzile Langeni, and chair of the Liberty Group and former Standard Bank head Jacko Maree.

“They will be travelling to major financial centres in Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors. A major part of their responsibility will be to seek out investors in other parts of Africa, from Nairobi to Lagos and from Dakar to Cairo,” he said.

The president also named businesswoman Trudi Makhaya as his economic adviser. Makhaya holds a number of degrees in business and economics, including from Oxford University and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ramaphosa said that Makhaya would coordinate the work of the four special envoys and organise a series of investment roadshows in preparation for the conference.

According to Makhaya’s website, she has served as an adviser and angel investor to a number of companies, and has held non-executive directorships at Vumelana Advisory Fund and MTN South Africa.

She has also held management or consulting roles at Deloitte South Africa, Genesis Analytics, AngloGold Ashanti and the Competition Commission.

 

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Sources: Jan Cronje (Fin24) [1].

Ramaphosa: SA Govt Will Pay Zuma’s Legal Fees

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the undertaking with Jacob Zuma was signed in good faith and that the former president will personally have to pay back the money if he loses.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the government’s undertaking to spend millions on Jacob Zuma’s legal costs in court action over the fraud and corruption charges against him.

Ramaphosa told Parliament that Zuma will personally have to pay back the money if he loses.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) claims the deal struck with Zuma is unlawful and is gearing for legal action to force the Presidency to recover the R15.3 million that taxpayers have forked out so far.

President Ramaphosa says the undertaking with Zuma was signed in good faith.

“With regards to the payment of legal costs, in case he loses the case, he would be willing (and) able to pay back the money and of course, if that fails, the government has other legal means to which it can go and recover the money”.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says they believe Zuma’s total taxpayer-funded legal bill stands at around R64 million.

Ramaphosa says he’s unaware and that the R15.3 million calculated so far relates only to the corruption charges.

A fresh legal battle now looms, with the DA set to challenge the legality of the agreement and to seek an order forcing the Presidency to get Zuma to repay the money.

 

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Source: EWN [1]. Image source: [1].

South African Cabinet Reshuffle Announced

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his cabinet reshuffle during an address at the Union Buildings last night.

10 Ministers have been fired from the cabinet, others have been moved to new positions, and former Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has been appointed as Deputy President.

Nhlanhla Nene has been appointed as the new Minister of Finance, having served in the role during 2014 and 2015. Another former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has taken the role of Minister of Public Enterprises.

Some Jacob Zuma loyalists, including Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, and Malusi Gigaba, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa said during his speech last night, “I’ve decided to make certain changes to the composition of the executive of our country. These changes are intended to ensure that national government is better equipped to continue implementing the mandate of this administration and specifically the tasks identified in the State of the National Address. In making these changes, I’ve been very conscious of the need to balance continuity and stability for the need for renewal, economic recovery and accelerated growth in our country”.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image source: [1].