The black majority must now have economic freedom – Jacob Zuma

President says RET will grow the economy in an inclusive manner, ensuring true reconciliation and prosperity

Address by President Jacob Zuma in response to the debate on the State of the Nation Address

16 February 2017

Honourable Speaker,

Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP,

All Presiding Officers,

Honourable Deputy President, Honourable Ministers, Premiers, Deputy Ministers,

Chairperson of the SA Local Government Association,

Honourable Members

Fellow South Africans,

Special guests,

We thank you all for the contributions to the debate on the 2017 State of the Nation Address.

Let me extend again our deepest condolences to the families of psychiatric patients who died so tragically in Gauteng. This matter is deeply painful for the country and should not be used for political gains.

Government will continue to support the families and to ensure that the recommendations of the Health Ombudsperson are implemented.

Let me thank all South Africans for taking the time to listen to the SONA in spite of the shocking and unbecoming behaviour that was displayed in this House again last Thursday by some Members.

Our people elect members every five years to represent them in Parliament and to fulfil the tasks outlined in the Constitution for the legislative arm of the State. 

The majority of Members of Parliament understand the serious responsibility that they have been entrusted with and conduct themselves in a manner that gives hope to South Africans.

However, some MPs have decided to treat this august House like something worse than a beerhall.

The conduct we saw in this House traumatised millions of South Africans, as well

12 year old Given Lubisi, who came here to impress Members of Parliament and the nation with his artistic skills. Let me extend a warm welcome to Given, who is my special guest today.

We again appeal to those MPs and parties that have taken a decision to cause mayhem in the House to use available democratic mechanisms to express themselves, within the bounds of decency and decorum. As adults we can disagree ideologically, but we should not lose track of the national interest.

Respect for one another and for our Parliament will restore the dignity of this important House and give hope to our people.

Honourable Members and Compatriots,

The message of SONA2017 is clear and simple. The political freedom gained in 1994 must be accompanied by economic freedom for the black majority in this country, and the Africans in particular. We are not going to beapologetic about that.

Radical socio-economic transformation will help us to grow the economy in an inclusive manner, ensuring true reconciliation and prosperity.

We have noted with shock, statements from some in the opposition benches that our radical economic transformation programme will not succeed because it has not succeeded anywhere else.

That is a confirmation that some of our compatriots are determined to defend and protect the status quo and ensure that the ownership, control and management of the economy remains skewed in favour of a racial minority.

We welcome the fact that most members support the programme.

The fact that white households earn five times more than black households cannot guarantee a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

The ownership figures of companies at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange should worry any leader in our country who wants to see a sustainable future.

The fact that there is no proliferation of successful black owned mining companies 23 years into freedom as stated by Honourable Luzipho, should unite us all into finding solutions.

Abantu abamnyama kufanele bangabi abasebenzi nje kuphela. Kufanele babe nezimboni, babe izimenenja, babe nemifelandawonye exhaswe uhulumeni. Kufanele babe nomhlaba balime bondle izingane zabo.

Sisho lokho ngaloluhlelo lokuguqula isisekelo somnotho nenhlalo.

Indeed, we agree with Honourable Godi that economic transformation must not only be radical, it should be revolutionary.

Honourable Minister Nkwinti summarised what needs to be transformed as per our definition: the structure, systems, ownership, control and institutions.

Honourable Minister Radebe pointed out that radical socio-economic transformation is not just political rhetoric.

This is a serious programme, and it will be implemented by government using the strategic levers that are available to the state. These include legislation, regulations, licensing, budget and procurement as well as Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Charters.

It is a practical implementable programme, as outlined by Honourable MEC Zikalala who shared what KwaZulu-Natal province is already doing and will be doing to implement the programme, bevula umnotho bewuvulela abamnyama abebeshiwe ngaphandle ezweni labo. U-Operation Vula wesibili!

Honourable Lucas also outlined plans and programmes of the Northern Cape and the opportunities.

Indeed many provinces will be able to put this programme into action.

The role of municipalities as engines for economic growth, in ensuring radical transformation is key as outlined by Councillor Tau.

The challenges of municipalities such as the unsustainable debt owed to them which is currently standing at one hundred and thirteen billion rand needs urgent attention.

That is what the back to basics government programme is all about, assisting municipalities to deal with such challenges.

We assure the Honourable Mncwabe that government values cooperatives and that many already provide services to government. His concern is noted.

Uhlelo lokuphekela izingane ezikoleni, olondla izingane ezidlulile ezigidini eziyisishiyagalolunye, lusiza imifelandawonye eminingi ephethwe omama emalokishini nasezindaweni zasemakhaya okuthengwa kuyo ukudla.

Nomnyango wezenhlalakahle usebenzisa imifelandawonye eminingi athenga kuyo ukudla okondla abadla imbuya ngothi.

Cooperatives will continue to receive support from government as part of economic empowerment.

Honourable Mohai, indeed the agreement on the national minimum wage by social partners led by the Deputy President is a key milestone in tackling the problems of the working poor and income inequality.

As you correctly pointed out, the national minimum wage is not the living wage, but it goes a long way in addressing the problem of the working poor.

Honourable Coleman you are correct, indeed we are moving beyond the formula of five per cent ownerships and empowerment through dividend payments only.

Our SMME and black economic empowerment policies will also prioritise the development of entrepreneurs who play a meaningful role in the productive sectors of the economy, beyond shareholder transactions.

That is why we speak of black industrialialists as we want to see factories owned by black people in the manufacturing sector.

Honourable Minister Zulu provided more information on the 30 per cent compulsory subcontracting that I announced in the SONA. The Department of Small Business Development will work with state owned companies and enterprises as well as government departments, to ensure that SMMEs benefit from this new policy development.

Education is an important instrument for radical socio-economic transformation.

Education was used as an instrument of subjugation, and we are using it as an instrument to free the current and next generations from the shackles of the past.

We agree that some communities still face difficulties with schools that are far from ideal in both structure and capacity to teach.

Work is on-going to change the situation around. Honourable Shenge raised concern about the pace of the replacement of mud schools. The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative programme is proceeding well although it has been hit by difficulties in some areas.

Difficulties that have caused delays include work stoppages due to disputes on site about who should be employed or not in some areas, or stoppages due to wage disputes. The project has also faced difficult terrains in our rural communities where work must stop after rains at times. 

We assure uMntwana wakwaPhindangene that Government is determined to finish this programme.

Honourable Marchesi, Government is doing a lot systematically to rebuild schools that have poor structures and to provide the much-needed amenities.

Over and above the mud schools that are being replaced, government has, through the ASIDI programme, provided water to six hundred and fifteen schools, decent sanitation to four hundred and twenty five schools and electricity to three hundred and seven schools.

Uhulumeni uyaqhubeka nokulungisa izikole ezindaweni zonke.  Uma singakafiki ngakini, ungadikibali, siyeza.

Ngeke siphumule zingakalungi zonke izikole ikakhulukazi emalokishini nasezindaweni zasemakhaya.

Honourable Shenge there is no wholesale replacement of textbooks that takes place each year because the curriculum has not changed. Each year the department of Basic Education delivers top-up books to replace damaged, lost or books not returned to school. 

Honourable Shenge nesikhalo samanzi siyezwakala. Ezindaweni eziningi koZululand, Mzimvubu, Mkhanyakude nakwezinye izifundazwe abantu basalinde amanzi.

Yingakho sakha amadamu amasha, silungisa futhi namadamu akhona enziwa makhulu.

I decided to establish a stand-alone Department of Water and Sanitation in 2014 because of the realisation of the need to ensure improvements in extending water to our people.

Given the serious drought situation that faces our country, government through the Department of Water and Sanitation has spent over five hundred million rand on emergency and short-term interventions in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape and the Northern Cape. The water and sanitation programme continues nationwide.

Honourable Mkongi outlined the extent to which government has ensured access to education by children from primary to secondary education levels.

Importantly, you reminded us that our youth is not a lost generation. They know what they want for themselves and their country now as demonstrated by the increased numbers in higher education institutions.

The radical economic transformation programme of government supports our youth through the creation of economic opportunities to ensure that they are employed and have access to entrepreneurial opportunities.

Government will intensify efforts to deal with challenges facing the higher education and training sector to make higher education accessible to more students from the poor families and the working class.

As I mentioned in the SONA, some measures have already been undertaken. The university debt of NSFAS qualifying students for 2013, 2014 and 2015 academic years has been paid by government. In total, government has reprioritised 32 billion rand within government baselines to support higher education.

Over the coming months, government policies will respond directly to the concerns raised by the students, including consideration of raising the NSFAS threshold of one hundred and twenty two thousand rands.

Secondly, as I mentioned, the students have pointed out that the full cost of study at some universities is higher than the subsidy that NSFAS provides and this too must be urgently addressed.

Honourable Members emphasised the need for economic activities to take place beyond the main centres only and also the revitalisation of rural and township economies.

We will use the Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks as instruments of boosting jobs and inclusive growth, and also to decentralize economic activities away from the usual urban centres, as part of economic transformation.


Hon Minister Shabangu reminded us of the strides made by women in the field of science in our country thanks to the hard work of government through the Department of Science and Technology amongst others.

Let me join the Minister in congratulating Minister Naledi Pandor on winning the 2016 Award for Science Diplomacy for using science and technology to support development in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

As we celebrate the advancement of women, let me also take this opportunity to welcome the progress made in gender equity in the judiciary at the level of magistrates.

A total two hundred and forty six magistrates were appointed between 2015 and 2016.

The racial and gender break down of the appointees reflects 93 African females, 64 African males  19 Coloured males, 18 White females, 13 Coloured females  nine Indian males, 22 Indian females and eight White males. 

This appointment of a significant number of women in the Magistracy is an important milestone in the transformation of the judiciary. We congratulate the judiciary in this regard.

Honourable Waters, indeed I am happy that I visited Nyanga police station on Tuesday. I saw first-hand the conditions under which the police work and under which the people live.

Kuyinkinga kakhulu ukuthi amaphoyisa ayazibamba izigebengu kodwa zidedelwe.

It is not only Nyanga that is facing challenges with regards to crime. Other parts of Cape Town are also facing problems and other townships around the country. I mentioned Soshanguve in the SONA. We will intensify the focus on promoting safety and security this year working with our people.

I will be meeting with the justice, crime prevention and security cluster soon to discuss this matter further.

Hon Malatsi, Hon Julius and others stated that the ANC has failed to address land restitution.

I stated upfront in the SONA that we have not met the targets.

One reason for the delays is that we had chosen to use the “willing buyer willing seller’’ principle which in many cases resulted in the state having to pay large sums of money to acquire land.

The introduction of the office of the Valuer General is assisting us to ensure that we do not pay excessive land prices.

The Land Expropriation Amendment Act, when finalised, will also assist in fast-tracking land reform. This government has the interest of the people at heart, and will do all in its power to ensure that land is returned to the people.

Umhlaba uzobuyela kubantu.

Kuyamangaza ukubona amaqembu asekhuluma sengathi ami kanye nabantu odabeni lomhlaba sibe sazi kahle ukuthi emlandweni kanye namanje, ami kanye nalabo abaqola umhlaba.

Honourable Semenya outlined the progress made in land and agrarian reform and indeed much more still needs to be done to support agriculture.

She raised important issues including funding which needs to be attended to.

Honourable Masango raised a concern about the social grants payments matter.  The Departments of Social Development and the National Treasury are seized with this matter.

Radical economic transformation must be supported by advanced information and communications technology sector as Honourable Minister Cwele outlined. The broadband rollout and the lowering of the costs of data remain apex priorities.

This is a concern of many Honourable Members.

Honourable Holomisa we wish you well with the national consultative conference that your party will finally organise this year which you have been talking about for a while.

Honourable Groenewald, affirmative action and black economic empowerment do not demonstrate hatred of white people.

They are aimed at ensuring the achievement of true reconciliation in the country based on the Constitution of the Republic.

The Constitution enjoins us to heal the divisions of the past and to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

Radical economic transformation, of which affirmative action and BEE form a part, are part of healing the divisions of the past.

White compatriots will be part of this process as it will assist us to achieve a truly united, non-racial and prosperous society.

Honourable Members,

We remain committed to the energy mix to ensure energy security in our country.

Members will recall that Cabinet designated Eskom and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation as the procurers and operators of the various components of the nuclear new build programme. 

Let me reiterate that before any nuclear new build procurement takes place the Request for Proposals have to be issued. 

Once proposals have been received and evaluated, the Department of Energy is required to report back to Cabinet on the proposed funding model.  As I have previously indicated any procurement process must be on “a scale and at a pace that our country can afford”. 

It is from this basis that we would then proceed.


Yesterday the Competition Commission announced that it has concluded an investigation into price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency involving the Rand, covering the period from 2007, and found that some banks have a case to answer. 

This matter is still under investigation.

As stated in the SONA, Government is prepared to act against market abuse, price-fixing and collusion in the private sector in order to protect our country’s economy.

The competition commission can impose fines on companies but the impact is far reaching as it distorts our economic system.

We also look forward to working with the financial sector towards diversification and transformation of the sector so that new players can enter the market as part of radical economic transformation.

Minister Cwele provided an update with regards to the finalization of the Post Bank to make it a fully-fledged bank.

We remain committed to the establishment of a State Bank.

Honourable Van Damme, as Honourable Manamela pointed out, uhlulekile ukubulala i-SONA!

Honourable Minister Davies highlighted the changing circumstances in the global economic order, with many countries becoming inward looking, which has made South Africa to also underscore its own national interest.

Many of the international developments such as India’s focus on local procurement, the United Kingdom’s new-found interest in industrial strategy, and the United States drive to re-shore manufacturing, are in fact priorities that Government identified in the National Development Plan and is actively implementing.

In pursuit of the national interest, we remind the private sector to cooperate with government on promoting local content of the designated products.  These include rail rolling stock, set-top boxes, solar water heaters, transformers, furniture products, and rail signalling systems, to mention a few.

We also appeal to South Africans as well to buy local products, so that we can create and save jobs.


Oliver Tambo personified unity and love for South Africa and its people. In his memory we should all work hard to promote unity, and not allow petty political differences to divide our nation.

We also need to meet our international obligations with respect to the treatment of refugees and nationals of other countries on our soil, while ensuring that all legal processes are followed for their stay in the country.

In the 2016 SONA, I reported that I had visited the Home Affairs offices at Marabastad in Tshwane and had received complaints from foreign and African nationals about among others long queues, criminal syndicates, overcrowding, poor administrative facilities and other difficulties at the refugee reception centre.

Tomorrow, on 17 February we will be launching the new centre which has been refurbished by the Department of Home Affairs.

I am happy to announce that it shall be named after a distinguished South African with an exemplary track record in the promotion of justice, human rights, freedom and equality, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of Mr Steve Biko by the apartheid state.

We will mark the Human Rights Day commemoration at Ginsberg in King Williamstown in the Eastern Cape onMarch 21, in his honour. He paid the supreme price for freedom.

Honourable Minister Mapisa-Nqakula stated that the South African National Defence Force is is an instrument for peace which creates fertile ground for the stimulation of vibrant economic activity. We will celebrate our Defence Force at the annual Armed Forces Day parade on the 21st of February at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Last year the celebration was held in Port Elizabeth.

This year’s Armed Forces Day has special meaning as it marks the commemoration of the centenary of the tragic sinking of the ship the Mendi, carrying more than 600 black South Africans participating in the first world war.

A number of buildup activities are already taking place in Durban to which members of the public are invited.

South Africa will host the Global Entrepreneurship Network congress, a gathering of start-up champions for the first time in Sandton next month. We look forward to hosting global SMMEs on our shores.

We are also very proud to host yet again, the World Economic Forum Africa meeting, bringing together global political and business leaders. It will take place in Durban on 3 to 5 May.


We have it within our power to complete the transformation of our country. We will pursue radical socio-economic freedom with vigour, so that we can achieve prosperity, unity and true reconciliation in our country.

We shall do this in memory of Oliver Reginald Tambo and all who sacrificed life’s comforts for a free, just and equal society.

I thank you.

Issued by Tsakane Khambane, Private office of The President, 16 February 2017