Thoughts on SONA 2018

15 Feb 2018

Tertia Jacobs

Investec Treasury Economist

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

 

Newly elected President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, will deliver the State of the Nation Address on the evening of Friday 16 February.

#SONA2018
Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as President of South Africa on Thursday 15 February by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
 
Focus will now be on the appointment of new ministers in key portfolios.
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The State of the Nation Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was postponed from Thursday 8 February to the evening of Friday 16 February 2018.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was postponed from Thursday 8 February to the evening of Friday 16 February 2018.

We are looking for SONA content to include a message of confirmation of Cyril Ramaphosa’s 'New Deal' action plan, underpinned by the longer term growth plan embodied in the NDP that gathered dust under the Zuma administration.  

Madiba
"Making your future better – Learning from Madiba"

Theme for SONA 2018,

Leadership changes at national level will help to achieve objectives

Cyril Ramaphosa probably best described the current state of South Africa in November, in his “New Deal” speech: “It is (also) very concerning that, in recent years, our economy has stalled, and social progress has slowed. We are neither creating the jobs we need nor advancing social cohesion… They are consequences of missteps in our policy interventions, weaknesses in collective decision-making and poor execution of policies and strategies, combined with the damaging effects of state capture and corruption on economic performance.“
Cyril Ramaphosa
"We are neither creating the jobs we need nor advancing social cohesion."

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa

Source: http://ramaphosa.org.za/

Key focus areas: growth, employment, stabilising the debt of fiscus and financial position of Eskom

We think that SONA 2018 will provide a sober feedback report along the lines of Cyril Ramaphosa’s assessment cited above. Any attempts to paper over the challenges facing South Africa would be met with a negative market and business response.
 
The political situation has changed significantly since the outcome of the ANC elective conference in December 2017.
 
This has already generated an increase in foreign and domestic investment in SA Inc shares listed on the JSE. The balance of political power has shifted from the South African ANC president to the new ANC president.
 

No quick fixes but the political will to tackle these issues can make the difference between stagnation and restoring momentum

  • A social pact between the different stakeholders in the economy needs to be established
  • SOEs and infrastructure spending are at the heart of mobilising various sectors of the economy
  • Business investment and employment levels are expected to be raised
  • Regulatory uncertainty needs to be reduced in order to encourage investment in mining and upstream/downstream sectors.
 
Also read: SA down(graded) but not out
 

Details are to be revealed in the Budget and various announcements during 2018

We think that the risk of policy swinging towards populism has declined under Ramaphosa's leadership. 

Budget allocations and details of the SONA framework will be elaborated on in the Budget Review, to be presented by the Minister of Finance on Wednesday, 21 February.

Key focus points are likely to be on the capacity for the Minister of Finance to balance the stabilisation government debt levels, contingent liabilities and the funding of free tertiary education.
 
This is most likely to result in a fiscally austere budget and we could expect some early indications in SONA about the degree of fiscal restraint we are likely to see in the Budget. 
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