by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – ANALYSTS forecast the issue of corruption to feature prominently in this week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
He will deliver the address on Thursday on the back of stunning revelations of rampant graft within the government and public sector, as disclosed by testimonies given to a commission probing the so-called state capture.
Ramaphosa is also set to announce the date for the general elections Africa’s most advanced economy will hold in May but market watchers believe dealing with corruption will feature most prominently in his address.
“Also of critical importance will be Ramaphosa’s comments on his administration’s efforts to fight corruption and roll back state capture, especially given recent revelations at the Zondo commission of inquiry, with corruption featuring strongly amongst voters’ top concerns,” Absa economists, Miyelani Maluleke and Peter Worthington told CAJ News Africa.
Absa believes Ramaphosa is also likely to lay out the government’s rough plan for restructuring Eskom, although it is unclear exactly how much detail will be provided.
“In general, SONA addresses tend to be more about broad statements than the nuts and bolts detail,” Maluleke and Worthington stated.
Nonetheless, the experts believe the issue is likely to feature strongly, given the centrality of Eskom to South Africa’s fiscal and economic challenges, and the risks posed by the state-owned company to sovereign creditworthiness.
Mpho Tsebe, economist at Rand Merchant Bank, stated, “The speech will be closely scrutinised to evaluate how government will deal with corruption, ensure policy stability and boost economic growth.”
Nedbank forecast that the president was likely to give an update on the outcomes of the investment and job summits.
“He will probably also provide an update on his investment drive and give an indication on how he plans to tackle the state of state of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as well as what government will be prioritising this year to grow the economy,” Nedbank stated.
The bank’s economists stated that given that it was an election year, Ramaphosa would be constrained to introduce new sweeping measures without knowing if he would have the requisite power to carry them out after the elections.
“The speech is likely to focus on job creation and highlight government’s key achievements over the past year,” Nedbank stated.
Delivered during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, SONA is a mechanism used by the president to account to the nation on the work of government and to set out government’s programme of action.
Earlier this week, Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, said the budget for SONA had been cut by 47 percent on the back of South Africans continuing to face economic challenges.
“Parliament is taking very feasible steps to do more with fewer resources progressively,” Mbete said.
– CAJ News