NEHAWU response to the 2018 SONA

Saturday February 17, 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] note the tabling before the joint sitting of parliament of the State of the Nation Address [SONA] by President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa last night.

As NEHAWU, we join all progressive forces and citizens of South Africa in congratulating the Fifth President of the Republic Of South Africa Mr. Ramaphosa. The workers of South Africa and their families wishes the President well in discharging his political responsibilities.

This year’s SONA brings much needed hope and certainty to a society confronted by high levels of social inequality, poverty and ever-increasing levels of unemployment. The national union welcomes the proposed measures, to take South Africa on a new growth path.

The national union welcomes the commitment and measures to fight corruption and the support to state capture investigation free of interference. A concerted and aggressive fight must be waged against corruption, the usage of state resources for narrow political gains and the plundering of the state resources for self-enrichment. As NEHAWU, we commit ourselves in working with the President and his collective in fighting the scourge of corruption.

For some time now, NEHAWU has been at the forefront in calling for the following:


  • A jobs summit to deal with the job bloodbath that has been under way in our country;
  • A financial summit to deal with the transformation of the financial sector;
  • Speedy implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI] and the comprehensive social security;
  • Reindustrialization of the South African economy;

Economic Policy:

As NEHAWU, we welcome the proposal to appoint a Presidential Economic Advisory Council. We hope that the President will appoint capable and progressive heterodox economists who will assist the country to move into a progressive economic policy making paradigm. We call on the President to ensure that this advisory structure is broad-based and representing the interests of the masses of our people rather the same old neoliberal economists whose prescripts over the years have failed our country.  We are looking forward to the contents of the national budget which will be tabled in parliament next week Wednesday more in particular the fiscal policy framework.

Jobs summit:

 We welcome the proposal to convene both the Jobs and Investment summit. We were the first union to call upon government to convene these summits to curb job blood –bath, capital strike, low levels of investments, illicit financial flows and the transformation of the financial sector. We urge government to move with speed in implementing these proposals. 

Manufacturing and Industrialization:

 The national union has been at the fore-front in demanding the implementation of a broad-based industrialization program to stem the tide towards de-industrialization, we are however disappointed about the failure to announce measures to strengthen the state-owned pharmaceutical industry, and state procurement of health infrastructure to bring about the implementation of the NHI.

There shall be no successful industrialisation without an intensified and systematic transformation of the TVET sector. The funding crisis afflicting the post-schooling has inadvertently shifted resources away from the TVET to the higher education sector and thus perpetuating the anomalous inverted post-schooling system inherited from the past. Government must embrace the recommendation of the Heher Commission with regard to the need for a massive recapitalisation. Together with the improvements that are necessary in the curriculum and training content, we expect the prioritisation of the TVET sector in line with the country’s industrial policy, Post-schooling White Paper and NDP. 

Post Schooling Education Training:

The national union welcomes the proposed measures to bring about free higher education, we are however disappointed about the absence of an overarching comprehensive agenda of transformation and funding of Post Schooling Education. We are calling upon government to speed up engagement processes at NEDLAC.

As NEHAWU, we say “Hands off public sector workers wages and jobs!” We have noted some tendencies towards jobs cuts and attempts to reduce the wage bill. We warn the President that as workers we won’t fold our hands when the state is reversing our hard won gains. As NEHAWU, we would welcome the reduction of ministries However, we want to caution against any loss of jobs as a result. Furthermore, this measures must not lead to budget cuts in terms of the existing programmes which ultimately leads to job losses. Our view is that this should be about the closure of ministries as opposed to departments. The latter must be absorbed or integrated in the related existing departments. We hope this would not lead to a job blood bath of the coal-face public service jobs. Should jobs be lost in this fashion we will fight fire with fire.

Whilst noting the call on public servants to become agents for change the President should have balanced it with the commitment to pay them better in order to boost their moral. Moreover, our view is that President should have expressed his commitment to fill all vacant funded posts as part of his determination that everyone in public service should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity including putting our people first otherwise this might not be realised with the shortage of staff in public service as public servants are subjected to perform jobs of three people at the same time which the compensation is for one person.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison  Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: