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SONA 2017 disappointed

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is disappointed with the chaos that preceded yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

It goes directly against not only our call for “a stable political environment which is conducive to the needs of business to ensure an enabling business environment”, but also against the closing remarks of the SONA speech – ironically calling for unity and working together as fellow South Africans.

The damage these scenes continue to do to our international reputation is of extreme concern to the business community and we sincerely hope it will not affect potential investment in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, said Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler.

"Furthermore, the SONA lacked a sense of urgency, strategy and direction. No catalytic projects associated with the Eastern Cape were highlighted in the speech," Hustler said.

Items of concern in the SONA 2017 speech:

• “High water losses which in some municipalities far exceeds the national average which is currently at 37%.” A far greater sense of urgency must be applied into this unacceptable wastage of such a crucial resource. The ongoing drought remains a major concern in Nelson Mandela Bay. Water preservation and infrastructure development and maintenance needs to be prioritised.

• We wanted more detail on how government would ensure energy security and balance the energy mix as part of the country’s energy masterplan. Quality, security of supply and cost of electricity remain issues which need to be addressed in 2017.

• There was insufficient information on Operation Phakisa other than “All projects are proceeding well.” We reiterate our call for a more co-ordinated and practical implementation of Operation Phakisa in the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay.

• No tangible plan was presented to address the dire educational situation in the Eastern Cape, as well as the mounting debt issues which universities are facing and the impact this has on the quality of education.

• The anticipated economic growth rate of 1.3% is of major concern to us. To truly address unemployment the economic growth rate needs to be at least 2.5%.

Items of encouragement from the SONA speech:

• The announcement that Eskom would sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds.
• 13% growth in tourist arrivals in South Africa.