THE 2022 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS - IT'S TIME TO WORK
With the benefit of hindsight, the 2022 SoNA, presented by the President on the 10th of February, proceeded from the perspective of rebuilding set out in the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan. The ERRP is premised on overcoming the lingering effects of Covid-19 and promoting growth by focusing on infrastructure roll-out, localisation of manufacturing, support for vulnerable households and expanding energy supply. To this end, the President identifies a number of delivery initiatives to attain ERRP goals. Key among these initiatives include: the Solidarity Fund, which has since its establishment in 2020 raised R3.4 billion in donations, measures to bring new additional energy into the network (including the ongoing unbundling of ESKOM into three independent business units set to be concluded by 2022) and to synergise immigration policy with skills shortages.
Several other delivery initiatives include the following: review of labour market regulations, seemingly to minimise labour rigidities; a redesigned business loan guarantee scheme now referred to as the bounce-back scheme; Red tape reduction team to unblock investments and emphasis of the infrastructure fund initially announced with seed funding of R100 billion in 2020 – but was allocated no less more R10 billion in the 2021 budget. The President further noted ongoing plans to improve rural roads and bridges overseen by the South African National Defence force and a new social infrastructure delivery program to deliver school education infrastructure, presumably replacing the ASIDI program, which has been marred by delivery failures. A new climate finance task team has been set up, over and above the Climate Commission established in 2021. Also worth mentioning are the growing number of public employment programs, including the Presidential Employment Stimulus, Social Employment Fund, and a revitalised National Youth Employment Service sitting in various government departments and non-state organisations. To maintain support for the poor, the President announced the extension of the Social Relief of Distress Grant for an additional 12 months.
This 2022 State of the Nation Address by the President is logical in its approach and noble in the desire to see the impacts of multiple policy initiatives to improve the lives and livelihoods of the citizens. It is now up to the President’s cabinet to stake their careers to strengthen the underlying bureaucratic process and systems to bring the will of the President to fruition through state delivery implementation without wasting scarce public resources. It is time to work.