COSATU SONA expectations statement 

Monday, 07 February 2022 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is looking forward to the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa on the 10th of February 2022. The speech should set the tone for the government’s work this year. 

Government needs to acknowledge that the deepening socioeconomic crises in South Africa come from the misguided macroeconomic policy framework that has been implemented over the years.  

Workers expect the President to announce plans for his government to move away from economic policies that are suffocating the economy and that have left half the adult working population unemployed. 

We expect to hear about progress since the last SONA, in 2021, on government’s interventions to rebuild the state, tackle corruption, grow the economy, create jobs, and roll out the vaccines. 

 The President needs to provide a frank assessment of what needs to be done and clear interventions to turn the nation around.  Key interventions critical to growing the economy and rebuilding the state include: 

  • The Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan needs to be adequately resourced by government and business. The amendment of Regulation 28 needs to be finalised to help unlock further stimulus for the economy.  
  • The Presidential Employment Programme has done well creating 550 000 jobs.  Whilst, we welcome the additional funding provided to it, it still needs to be doubled in the 2022 budget so it can create at least 2 million badly needed jobs.  
  • Government has done well to provide the R350 SRD Grant to over 10 million people during the pandemic. The Federation demands it be extended beyond March 2022 and to be increased to the food poverty line of R624. This offers the country a solid and affordable foundation for a Basic Income Grant.  
  • Accelerating the rebuilding of Eskom and ensuring reliable and affordable electricity should be a key priority if this economy is to stand a chance. This includes moving with greater speed to implement the Eskom Social Compact, to tackle corruption and wasteful expenditure, to ramp up maintenance, to invest in new generation capacity, and a Just Energy Transition that takes affected workers and communities with and does not leave them behind.  
  • The deterioration of our SOEs remains deeply concerning, Transnet, PRASA, DENEL, the Post Office and SABC.  The systematic destruction of Transnet and PRASA needs to be decisively dealt with.  Their functioning is critical to getting mining, agricultural and manufacturing goods as well as workers to their destinations safely and on time.    
  • The Zondo Commission into State Capture and Corruption has provided clear recommendations on measures to tackle corruption.  Government needs to act on these, including tabling the necessary legislative amendments at Parliament.  
  • Public procurement remains a cesspool of corruption.  It’s critical that a single online, transparent public procurement system encompassing the entire state be established and find expression in the long delayed Public Procurement Bill.  
  • SARS must be empowered to tackle tax and customs evasion, and to undertake lifestyle audits of political office bearers, senior state, and supply chain officials.  
  • The ban on politically exposed persons doing business with the state needs to be strengthened.  This was agreed to by the 2021 ANC NEC Makgotla yet government has run away from Nedlac engagements on it.  

      The proposed social compact will only work if it is based on defending workers and providing solidarity with the poor.  It must include respecting collective bargaining in the public and private sectors.   

     We also hope the President is going to address the contentious issue of South African companies that are playing poor foreign workers against poor South African workers. The department of Employment and Labour, the department of Home Affairs and other relevant state institutions need to enforce the current labour and immigration laws to combat this problem. This emotive issue needs decisive leadership from government because it has the potential to fan the simmering xenophobic sentiments that have led to violence in the past.  

Lastly, if economic development is to be achieved an active, an interventionist state is needed, because government cannot continue to outsource its developmental mandate to the private sector. 

Issued by COSATU 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson) Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794