South Africa 12.2.2015 09:15 pm

Key issues addressed in SONA 2015

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

Energy, land, and the economy were issues at the forefront of President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address on Thursday night.

He said stabilising Eskom’s finances was a priority and the power utility would be given R23 billion in the next fiscal year to do so.

This, after the country had experienced different stages of load shedding the past few weeks.

He acknowledged South Africa was experiencing serious energy constraints.

“[These] are an impediment to economic growth, and are a major inconvenience to everyone in the country.”

Overcoming the problem was uppermost in government’s priorities.

“We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge.”

Cabinet was working “round the clock” with Eskom to stabilise the electricity supply system and contain load shedding.

Zuma said that the South Africa’s economy needed “a major push forward”.

The country’s aim of achieving a growth target of five percent in 2019 where at risk, he warned.

Zuma noted that the International Monetary Fund had this week revised down its global economic growth forecast to 3.5 percent for 2015.

“Our ambition of achieving a growth target of five percent by 2019 is at risk because of the slow global growth, as well as domestic constraints in energy, skills, transport and logistics amongst others.”

However, the situation was more promising on the jobs front.

“Two days ago, StatsSA released the employment figures for the last quarter of 2014. [They show] that there are now 15,3 million people who are employed in South Africa. Jobs grew by two hundred and three thousand.”

On his target of six million job opportunities over five years, announced last year, he said so far 850 000 “work opportunities” had been created.

Zuma said government had a nine-point plan to “ignite growth and create jobs”.

This included, among other things, resolving the country’s energy challenge, revitalising agriculture, advancing the beneficiation of minerals and encouraging private sector investment.

He acknowledged that land was a critical factor in achieving redress for the wrongs of the past.

Foreigners would not be allowed to own land in South Africa but instead be eligible for long-term lease.

“In this regard, the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill will be submitted to Parliament this year,” he said to applause in the National Assembly.

The second window for the lodging of land claims was reopened last year.

Zuma said more then 36,000 land claims had been lodged nationally. The cut-off date is 2019.

“We are also exploring the fifty/fifty policy framework, which proposes relative rights for people who live and work on farms.

“Fifty farming enterprises will be identified as a pilot project.”

In terms of new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership would be set at a maximum of 12,000 hectares.

Through the Land Reform programme, more than 90,000 hectares of land had been allocated to small holder farmers, farm dwellers and labour tenants.

“The process of establishing the Office of the Valuer-General is underway, which is established in terms of the Property Valuation Act,” Zuma said.

“Once implemented the law will stop the reliance on the willing buyer-willing seller method in respect of land acquisition by the state.”

 

08

today in print