President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the rocky start to his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday was “most unfortunate” because South Africans “desperately” wanted to hear government’s plans for 2020.
Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise suspended proceedings on Thursday after nearly an hour and half of disruptions, which were the result of the EFF’s call for former president FW De Klerk to leave the house and for Ramaphosa to fire Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The red berets accuse Gordhan of being at the centre of the challenges beleaguering state-owned enterprises.
Speaking at the 2020 Presidential Golf Challenge on Friday, Ramaphosa said: “Well, I think it was most unfortunate that we had to delay for an hour and a half, waiting to start the state of the nation address and for me, it was a delay that was imposed not only on the members of parliament but on the people of South Africa.”
The president added that it was “unfortunate” that parliamentarians displayed a “disregard” to the “ordinary people” of South Africa who wanted to hear the Sona rather than “get involved in the squabbles of members of parliament”.
“And that should have been taken into account by those members who wanted their issues to be addressed. Ordinary people out there wanted to know about how we are going to drive the economy forward, young people wanted to hear more about what is in store for them with regards to jobs,” Ramaphosa said.
He said “a very good message” was, however, eventually delivered, “particularly for young people and particularly for those who are driving the economy of our country”.
Ramaphosa said the issues dealt with in Sona included challenges faced by state-owned enterprise Eskom and that executives at the power utility were working to address these challenges.
However, he said it was important to note that despite efforts to stabilise Eskom, the roll-out of load shedding would continue in the meantime in light of the challenges at the power utility.
“But in the meantime, as we are doing that, we are also saying that we want other people to generate for themselves, so which will reduce pressure on Eskom and also municipalities should be able to generate but we are also going to procure emergency energy which should be in the grid between three months and one year. So that will help to stabilise the system,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said there were a number of important messages that South Africans wanted to hear from the Sona, “and I regret to say that the delay was most unfortunate and it was imposed on people who were more desperately in need of hearing what the government wants to do this year”.
Presidential Golf Challenge https://t.co/onlJET5wjO
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) February 14, 2020