Cyril places SA on fast track to digital revolution

The general election date was announced as May 8

Cyril Ramaphosa sings the national anthem before delivering his State of the Nation address in Cape Town on Thursday.
Cyril Ramaphosa sings the national anthem before delivering his State of the Nation address in Cape Town on Thursday.
Image: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

President Cyril Ramaphosa says every schoolchild in South Africa will receive digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device over the next six years.

Tabling his state of the nation address in Cape Town on Thursday night, he said the rollout will start “with those schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and are located in the poorest communities,” including farm, rural and multigrade schools.

"Already 90% of textbooks in high enrolment subjects across all grades and all workbooks have been digitised. We are expanding the training of both educators and learners to respond to emerging technologies including internet.”

This forms part of his drive to improve the education system, which he has identified as one of his five key priorities.

The President assigned all provinces to jot down their priority investment projects to help them lure investors.

He said KwaZulu-Natal had already submitted its list. The ball is now in premier Phumulo Masualle’s court to follow suit.

The announcement comes at the best of times for the Eastern Cape where several multibillion-rand projects with the potential to create thousands of jobs such as Umzimvubu dam and Umthombo oil refinery project, as well as a plan to enhance the capacity of the East London harbour and the much-anticipated railway link between East London and Gauteng, which have been placed on ice due to lack of funding.

“I have asked provincial governments to identify investable projects and ensure that we build investment books for each of our nine provinces to present to potential investors,” the President said.

He said there were already 19 public-private partnerships established as a result of an investment conference he convened in October.

"These industries expect to substantially expand investment over the next five years and create a vast number of new jobs, especially if we can enhance demand for local goods, further stabilise the labour environment and improve conditions for doing business," he added.

Ramaphosa said he had also identified five key priorities going forward, which include fighting corruption and state capture. “We have no choice but to step up the fight.”

He said there was progress in stabilising and restoring the credibility of institutions like the national prosecuting authority, the SA Revenue Services, the state security agencies and the police.

Director of public prosecutions advocate Shamila Batohi was already in office “to lead the revival of the NPA and to strengthen our fight against crime and corruption”, he said.

"I will soon announce a number of urgent steps to enable the reconstruction of a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa."

Other priorities are:

  • Strengthen state capacity;
  • Accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs; and
  • Improve living conditions for all South Africans, especially the poor.

Present were former statesman Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema and their wives, ANC veterans Sophie Du Bruin, Andrew Mlangangeni, Frene Ginwala, Max Sisulu, and soccer star Desiree Ellis.

We have no choice but
to step up the fight against corruption

Ramaphosa said the revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture were disturbing, and that there was a need to establish an investigating directorate in the office of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).

He said in broad terms, the directorate would focus on the evidence that had emerged from the Zondo commission, other commissions and disciplinary inquiries. "It will identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption.

"The directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacities from within government and in the private sector under an investigating director reporting to the NDPP," said Ramaphosa.

In the longer term, he added, "we will work with the NPA and other agencies of law enforcement to develop a more enduring solution that will strengthen the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with corruption."

Ramaphosa kicked off his second Sona with a smart move to neutralise the EFF after they threatened to disrupt his speech over over a R500,000 donation from controversial state service provider Bosasa.

In clear charm offensive, Ramaphosa had the EFF and the entire house in stitches when he said he and DA leader Mmusi Maimane had agreed to sing the Thuma Mina song for Malema should he win this year’s elections, which he announced would be held on May 8. – Additional reporting by Thabo Mokone and Qaanitah Hunter

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