The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes the tabling of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Joint sitting of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the 09th February 2023.

The 2023 SONA was presented in a socio-economic context recording high levels of load-shedding, inflation, interest rate hikes, deepening levels of unemployment, poverty and social inequalities.

The central theme of this year’s SONA was centred on “hope”, however much of what came out of the address does not provide any hope for the millions of our people that are confronted by high levels of social inequality, poverty and ever-increasing levels of unemployment.

The President in his speech said that his administration will focus on the following issues that concern South Africans the most:

• Load shedding

• Unemployment

• Poverty and the rising cost of living

• Crime and corruption

The SONA lacked comprehensive vision and a detailed plan to take the country and its people out of this depressing situation, instead we heard the same old promises and nothing new or inspiring.

We note the declaration of a State of Disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects. In this regard, the national union calls on the government to put in place measures that will ensure that public funds and resources are not looted and squandered as we witnessed during the COVID-19 State of Disaster.

We note the pronouncement on the restructuring of Eskom to ensure establishment of a transmission company, the implementation of the just energy transition programme, and the establishment of the SOE Holding Company.

We reiterate our rejection of the “structural reforms” in energy, rail and ports as nothing but a Neoliberal attempt to bring capital in the public sector of utilities (use-values or public goods). We oppose the attempt to create private sector monopolies in the delivery of public goods which are not supposed to be profitable commodities. We condemn the disdain of the ANC resolution on the position of ESKOM to play a leading role in the building of renewable energy.

The electricity crisis in 2022 led to 3486 hours of load shedding that equates to 145 days of blackouts. The impact of indecisiveness in Government in managing the crisis has been devastating on our society and economy. NEHAWU reiterates its position for the immediate need to take drastic action in getting the basics correct – end load shedding and allow for uninterrupted electricity supply, ramp up targeted high impact maintenance and bring on board new generation capacity.

We condemn the creation of a new Ministry of electricity when we already have a department and Minister. This seems to be a continuation of using the state to address party factional divisions and thereby ballooning the executive, which is already too bloated.

As NEHAWU, we demand transparency on the Just Transition Investment Plan. The government must take society into confidence whether it has already made irreversible commitments with the imperialist G7 countries. The national union calls for further engagements at NEDLAC on the content and financial implications of the JET-IP, the notion of “Just”, must include modalities and commitments to serve the struggling working class of this country. The path towards green energy places South Africa in a pivotal position, pioneering this international energy transition could potentially elevate our economy to a higher level of development. As it stands, importation regulations on the production of commercial retail goods are heavily scrutinised in terms of their component parts carbon footprint.

We are deeply dismayed and annoyed by the fact that the President has missed an opportunity to outline progress towards the full implementation of the National Health Insurance when the project has been elevated to the Presidency.

As NEHAWU, we demand the immediate transition to the Basic Income Grant instead of the current fragment and administratively costly grants system including the SRD Grant. As NEHAWU, we strongly believe that the transition to universal basic income grant will provide our people with dignified livelihoods and social protection.

With ever-growing vacancies in the Public Service and worse in the public health system, we are disappointed that the President has failed to mention anything about filling of vacancies. As NEHAWU, we demand the filling of vacancies to capacitate the state to deliver services to the people.

Lastly, we note the commitment by the President to achieving a better Africa and a better world. In this regard, we demand South Africa as the leading member of the SADC Troika to mobilise and lead the campaign in SADC and the African Union to isolate the despot Mswati for the atrocities committed in Swaziland and further call for the extradition and prosecution of mercenaries. 


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: