Ahead of the SONA 2017 address by President Jacob Zuma on 9 February 2017 the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber issued a wish list of what business wants from SONA 2017.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is steadfast in its expectations of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Foremost of which would be facilitating a stable political and economic environment which is conducive to promoting an enabling business environment,” said Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber President Ian Nicholls.
“Organised business in Nelson Mandela Bay wants government’s clear commitment to building an investor friendly environment through the implementation of sound economic policies which are focused on growth, and prioritising service delivery to the business community,” Nicholls said.
Below are the main concerns the Chamber wanted to be addressed in SONA 2017 vs [extracts from Zuma’s speech]:
- A far greater sense of urgency must be applied into moving the tank farm and manganese ore facilities from the Port of Port Elizabeth to Coega, thus unlocking the full tourism potential of the Nelson Mandela Bay waterfront. [NO mention in the speech]
- The ongoing drought remains a major concern in Nelson Mandela Bay. In addition to the need for the acceleration of the completion of the Nooitgedacht pipeline to secure the city’s water supply, water preservation and infrastructure development and maintenance needs to be prioritised. [NO mention of Nelson Mandela Bay]
- Quality, security of supply and cost of electricity remain issues which need to be addressed in 2017. [Zuma said; “Work is continuing to ensure energy security. Renewable energy forms an important part of our energy mix, which also includes electricity generation from gas, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro and coal. Government is committed to the overall Independent Power Producers Programme and we are expanding the programme to other sources of energy including coal and gas, in addition to renewable energy. Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds.”]
- The prioritisation of roads for maintenance, upgrades and development is of critical importance to unlocking the economic potential for businesses operating in the Metro. [NO mention of Nelson Mandela Bay]
- The underlying issues behind the University crisis (#feesmustfall) have not gone away and urgently needs to be addressed. We are very concerned about the mounting debt issues which universities are facing and the impact this has on the quality of education. [Zuma said; “All students who qualify for NSFAS and who have been accepted by universities and TVET colleges will be funded. The university debt of NSFAS qualifying students for 2013, 2014 and 2015 academic years has been addressed. In total, government has reprioritised thirty two billion rand within government baselines to support higher education.”]
- Unemployment remains a massive issue in South Africa, in particular in the Eastern Cape. This highlights the need for a greater focus to be placed on education, skills development, and facilitating conditions which will encourage the growth of small businesses. [On ‘unemloyment’ Zuma said; “Guided by the National Development Plan, we are building a South Africa that must be free from poverty, inequality and unemployment.” On ’employment’ Zuma said; “Only ten percent of the top one hundred companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans, directly-achieved principally, through the black empowerment codes, according to the National Empowerment Fund. The pace of transformation in the workplace, the implementation of affirmative action policies as required by the Employment Equity Act, also remains very slow. In terms of the 2015/16 information submitted to the Employment Equity Commission, the representation of whites at top management level amounted to 72 percent whilst African representation was at 10 percent. The representation of Coloureds stood at 4.5% and Indians 8.7%. The report further provides that white South Africans, in particular males, are afforded higher levels of recruitment, promotion and training opportunities as compared, to the designated groups. At the level of gender at senior management level, males remain dominant at 67.6% and females at 32.4% percent.”]
- Finally we also call for transparent and open business dealings and opportunities within the country’s energy masterplan – particularly in the areas of nuclear and renewable energy, as well as a more a co-ordinated and practical implementation of Operation Phakisa in the Eastern Cape. [on ‘Phakisa’ Zuma said; “In 2014 we launched the operation Phakisa Big Fast results methodology in the ocean economy, health, education and mining sectors. The purpose was to find a few key projects where we could unlock growth in implementing the NDP. All projects are proceeding well. The South African Navy also participates in the Phakisa project and is preparing to host the government garage concept for all state-owned vessels in Simon’s Town, including the maintenance and repair of government-owned vessels, through the newly established South African Navy/ARMSCOR/Denel partnership.” On ‘renewable energy’ Zuma said; “Renewable energy forms an important part of our energy mix, which also includes electricity generation from gas, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro and coal. Government is committed to the overall Independent Power Producers Programme and we are expanding the programme to other sources of energy including coal and gas, in addition to renewable energy. Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds.”]
Full text of the SONA 2017 speech HERE – “You can Kill me it’s fine, just kill me”.