The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has reacted mainly positively to the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa. In a carefully penned statement, COSATU’s Sizwe Pamla stated that the SONA “succeeded in identifying the bottlenecks that have led to economic stagnation and has managed to focus on some of the solutions that have been proposed by the ANC Manifesto. We expect more details from the relevant departments during their budget votes and National Treasury to speak to what the SONA has committed to.’’
COSATU welcomed the acknowledgement that public debt has detonated and the downturn is hurting South Africans. Pamla stated that the purchasing power of the working class has been decreasing due to the decline in income of the working class and the continued canning of jobs. The trade union federation, has also put the blame of the poor state of the economy at the door of corrupt individuals as well as ‘’failed’’ neoliberal policies.
They are pleased by the announcement that international investment drive has managed to attract investment commitments to the tune R 664 billion, but warned against foreign direct investment as the remedy for every economic ill. COSATU maintains that government should not be depending too much on the private sector for investment in the economy and once again called for the state to play a bigger role in the economy. The Federation called on government to ensure that small businesses are paid on time and welcomed the progress made to register a new company in one day.
The statement indicated that COSATU is pleased that government remains committed to establishing a state bank, which is long outstanding even prior to Ramaphosa’s ascendency to the 1st citizen. The modalities of creating a state bank seem to have hit some obstacles with the Reserve Bank’s strict protocols.
On the State Owned Entities (SOEs) Pamla stated that his organisation welcomed Ramaphosa’s commitment that a social compact needs to be arrived at, to save the ailing ESKOM. COSATU does have some reservations about what it calls “the scant details from the SONA on how government plans to restructure and rationalize the SOEs, especially because this in an urgent matter that cannot be postponed. We hope that the President and his Presidential SOE Council will release the details soon so that stakeholders can engage and submit their inputs.”
COSATU was also unhappy about the fact that nothing was mentioned in the SONA about the politically sensitive matter of Gauteng e-tolls, which caused a sort of stalemate between Alliance partners in the run-up to elections since its implementation.