Three Decades of Progress and The Road Ahead – SONA 2024

By Koketso Mamabolo

We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go. This was the message which came out of His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the last of the 6th administration. This year’s speech comes as the country celebrates 30 years of democracy, reflecting on the successes and failures, examining the weaknesses and acknowledging the strengths.

Job creation, economic growth, transformation, solving the energy and logistics challenges, bringing education and healthcare to the masses – these were focus areas of the President’s speech as he gave an overview of the progress made in overcoming the difficulties COVID-19, geopolitical tensions, climate change and natural disasters have presented during his first term.

The Story of Tintswalo

“Over the last three decades, we have been on a journey, striving together to achieve a new society – a national democratic society,” said President Ramaphosa, placing the SONA speech in the context of South African history. He spoke of the last 30 years with an eye on the positive developments but did not waver from acknowledging what still needs to be done, and the stumbling blocks, both locally and internationally. “Just as we cannot deny the progress South Africans have made over the last 30 years, nor should we diminish the severe challenges that we continue to face.”

“Much of the task of this administration was to get our country through these great challenges and to work to regain our way,” said the President, after outlining the turbulent events of the past 5 years. “While each of these events has left its mark, our country has weathered every storm. Yes, we have the scars to show. But in every case South Africans have been resolute. We have not only persevered, but we have come back stronger and more determined.”

To describe the successes of the last 30 years, His Excellency used the analogy of “democracy’s child”, Tintswalo – which is a Xitsonga name that refers to the gratitude offered to one who has given you a gift. In this instance, the gift is the fruits of our democracy and the social impact it has had through the various services and opportunities provided to people in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Tintswalo’s life begins with the birth of our democracy, with a constitution recognised around the world for the wide nature of its inclusive and transformative philosophical foundations. Here the rule of law and the conception of human rights has opened up a society in which dignity and compassion are at the heart of the state’s mission. In the early years of the country’s democracy, free healthcare, housing, basic water and electricity, free education, social grants, employment equity and economic empowerment became the cornerstones of the government’s approach to fulfilling their mandate.

“This is the story of millions of people who have been born since the dawn of democracy. But it is only part of the story. For despite the remarkable achievements of the last 30 years, many of democracy’s children still face great challenges.”

10 Key Takeaways From SONA 2024

  1. The public sector still has a significant role to play in job creation through mass employment.
  2. Rooftop solar capacity installed in the past year has more than doubled thanks to tax incentives and financial support from the state.
  3. The Northern Cape has attracted billions in investment for solar projects.
  4. We’re making progress in the fight against corruption and the recovery of billions in stolen funds.
  5. The employment rate has risen above pre-COVID levels.
  6. The state has embraced renewable energy and strides have been made through public-private partnerships.
  7. While there has been major investment into the economy, we still need more to make the just transition a reality and to solve our energy and logistics crisis
  8. The percentage of executive management positions held by black people is almost five times higher than it was at the dawn of democracy.
  9. The backlog at the Port of Durban is rapidly declining.
  10. High speed rail is on the way with Johannesburg-Durban first up.

Sources: fact-checks/reports/democracyschild-fact-checking-south-african-cyril-ramaphosas-2024 | za/ | politics/2024-02-09-poll–didthe-story-of-tintswalo-resonatewith-you

SONA In Numbers

Job Creation:

  • 1 million – The number of school assistants placed in 23 000 schools.
  • 4.3 million – The number of young people engaged in the
  • 1.6 million – The number of young people who have found opportunities through
  • 1.7 million – The number of work and livelihood opportunities created through the Presidential Employment Stimulus.

Health, Education and Social Development

  • 13 067 314 – The number of child support grants paid at the end of 2023.
  • 95% – The percentage of persons diagnosed with HIV who know their status.
  • 7 690 106 – The number of Social Relief of Distress grants paid in March 2023.
  • 65 Years – Life expectancy in 2023 up from 54 years in 2003.
  • 79% – The percentage of persons diagnosed with HIV who know their status and are receiving antiretroviral treatment.
  • 82.9% – The pass rate for class of 2023, the highest ever.

Solving The Energy Crisis

  • R240-billion – The value of investment pledges towards the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.
  • 2 500 MW – The amount of solar and wind power connected to the grid.
  • 120 – The number of private projects in development.
  • 14 000 km – The scale of transmission lines to be built for renewable energy.
  • Investment and Economic Transformation
  • R1.5-trillion – The value of new investment commitments.
  • 1 000+ – The number of black industrialists supported by the state.
  • 200 000 – The number of workers who have obtained ownership shares.
  • 6 million – The number of workers whose wages were raised through the National Minimum Wage.
  • 39% – The percentage of black ownership in mining.
  • 25% – The percentage of farmland owned by black South Africans
  • 90 000+ – The number of workers supported by black industrialists.
  • R120 Billion – The value of the projects instituted in the past five years for SANRAL’s network.
  • R500 billion – The value of investments from the South African Investment Conferences already flowing through the economy.

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