PROMISES: South African Prez Cyril Ramaphosa at SONA 2019. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced major changes in fixing State-Owned Entities and confirmed the unbundling of Eskom.

The president also said the elections will be held on 8 May this year.

Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address last night, also hinted that government will carry Eskom’s R100 billion debt after its request last year.

This would see its debt coming down from R419bn.

This is in line with the recommendations of the task team, set up by Ramaphosa late last year.

Eskom has remained a huge risk to the economy.

“To bring credibility to the turnaround and to position South Africa’s power sector for the future we shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities; generation, transmission and distribution, under Eskom Holdings,” said Ramaphosa.

There was pressure on Ramaphosa to deliver a speech that will settle the markets, attract investments and fight corruption.

He set out government’s five main priorities, with accelerating inclusive growth and job creation topping the list.

Secondly, he said the education system must be improved to ensure that the country could develop the skills it needed.

“Thirdly, we are duty bound to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor.

“Fourthly, we have no choice but to step up the fight against corruption and state capture.”

He said the fifth priority was to strengthen the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people.

Opposition parties want the economy to grow above 1% in order to create more jobs.

Statistics SA has said the unemployment rate was above 27%.

Ramaphosa also spoke strongly about fixing the security agencies saying they were key in fighting corruption and state capture.

He said he will re-establish the foreign and domestic branches of the intelligence agencies.

He will chair the revived National Security Council to ensure proper co-ordination in all levels of intelligence services.

But despite talking tough on state capture, Ramaphosa did not say a word about Bosasa, or the steps that will be taken against government officials implicated in the scandal.

The EFF and DA has been pushing for him to come clean on the R500 000 donated to him by Bosasa for his campaign to lead the ANC.

Ramaphosa said the money had been paid back.

Nevertheless Ramaphosa said the evidence from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture was so disturbing that he is establishing a special unit in the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions to deal with serious corruption.

Malema interrupted Ramaphosa and, rising on a point of order, he said: “This guy (Ramaphosa) is going to jail. He thinks we are playing.”

Malema then sat down and Ramaphosa continued his speech.

Ramaphosa also told Parliament they will soon table a Bill on the National Health Insurance.

“The NHI Bill will enable South Africans to receive free services at the point of care in public and private quality-accredited health facilities,” he said.

The prez said they wanted to get more investments into the country after pushing to raise $100 billion (R1.3 trillion).

With regards to the expropriation of land without compensation, he said they will identity land parcels from the state to be used for land reform purposes, including building houses.

At the beginning of his speech, Ramaphosa turned on the charm and humour to defuse tensions with the opposition.

He joked that he ran into Malema on Wednesday.

“Last year Malema challenged me to sing Thuma Mina. Yesterday I met Malema by accident and we agreed that if the EFF wins the elections and he is installed as the president of South Africa then he will invite me to come up on stage and sing for him.

“By sheer accident,” said Ramaphosa, he had also encountered DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

“I also recruited him to become a member of the band we are going to form.”