“We gather here at the start of the 6th Democratic Parliament, 106 years to the day after the Natives Land Act - one of the most devastating acts of dispossession, pain and humiliation - came into force.
“The effect of that law are still present with us today.”
Among the key points the president made were:
- job creation as a priority
- the lowering of data costs
- saving Eskom’s bacon
- recovering R14.7 billion of stolen state funds
- launching a massive reading campaign for children;
- and housing and land to be allocated to the poor over the next five years.
Ramaphosa said unemployment was the biggest obstacle the country now faced and job creation is his main priority.
“Our economy is not growing. Not enough jobs are being created. This is the concern that rises above all others. It affects everyone,” he said.
“It impacts you, the single mother from Delft, whose grant supports not just yourself but your grandchildren too.”
The new administration will focus on seven key areas in the next five years.
Ramaphosa warned that public finances were limited amid a stagnant economy and government was not “able to do everything at one time”.
The priorities include economic transformation and job creation; education, skills and health; consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services; and spatial integration, human settlements and local government.
While he avoided the sticky topic of land expropriation without compensation, he promised: “In the next five years, we will accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans.”
In other matters, the president announced a bailout plan for struggling Eskom, saying the power utility was far too important to be allowed to fail.
Government will soon table a special bill to ensure that a portion of the R230 billion in state funds earmarked for stabilising Eskom over a decade is released in the short term.
He said this was critical because Eskom only had cash to meet its obligations until the end of October.
Eskom and government would also clamp down on municipalities and households who don’t pay for their krag.
Ramaphosa called upon telecommunications companies to bring down the cost of data, saying this was vital for economic development and unleashing opportunities for young people.
Ramaphosa accompanied by his wife Tshepo Motsepe, was greeted by a gun salute and military fly-over as he arrived at Parliament just before 7pm.