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SONA and what you should know

With all the crises taking place simultaneously in South Africa, many commentators hoped that last night’s State of the Nation address would be a possible turning point. Here are a few things to know.

The address was a combination of a motivational speech about cooperation and hope, and a very long list of all the problems and initiatives to address them. Very little of it was new. We’ve already heard most of the better ideas and the worse ideas, so at least there’s no new policy uncertainty. One is left with the impression of how slowly things happen and how little has been done – plans are being finalized, programs are starting to gain momentum – a large part of the progress is on paper. I also take most of the numbers with a pinch of salt. For example, a large part of the investment amounts mentioned is money that has been promised but not yet spent.

Declaring the electricity crisis a state of disaster is the most important news, but it is only the solution to the problem if the right things are done. At least it helps that the government is going to support Eskom to get more money for diesel. And furthermore, we are waiting for the Budget Speech to hear what incentives there are to get off the grid.

There are more things to worry about than there is time for in a short podcast so I trust that the President is right about the tenacity and resilience of all of us.