South Africa

#SONA2019: This is what the people want, Mr President

#SONA2019: This is what the people want, Mr President

Johannesburg - A recent survey shows that most South Africans want President Cyril Ramaphosa to fix the country’s unemployment crisis as a matter of urgency.

On Thursday night, Ramaphosa will deliver his first State of the Nation Address as a democratically elected president, after clinching the elections for the ANC, with a reduced 57.5% majority in the general elections which were held in May.

Citizen Surveys conducted a quarterly study where they asked 3 900 South Africans.

In the survey, unemployment was the key issue highlighted for Ramaphosa to deal with as a key issue ahead of his Sona on Thursday night.

Ramaphosa has already responded to the unemployment problem the country faces, by re-configuring the Department of Labour, to have a focus on employment. The department is now known as the Department of Labour and Employment, and is politically headed by Minister Thulas Nxesi.

"In the case of (the Department of) Labour, we have decided to add Employment – to demonstrate our country is on a journey to create jobs," Ramaphosa said when he announced his Cabinet in May.

After creating jobs, at 73%, fixing the crime problem - 34% and ending poverty - 25%, providing housing and water - both at 18%, were the other top priorities for the president.

What South Africans want:

  • 73% - fix unemployment

  • 34% - fix crime

  • 25% - end poverty  

  • 18% - provide housing

  • 18% - provide Water supply

  • 14% - fix education,

  • 11% - fix the roads

  • 11% - fix electricity supply

  • 7% - better management of the economy

  • 7% - better basic health services

  • 6% - deal with xenophobia

  • 6% - fix income inequality

  • 4% - eradicate racism

  • 3% - fix sanitation

A Citizens Survey shows that unemployment, crime and poverty were the biggest issues for South Africa ahead of the State of the Nation Address. Graphic: Citizens Survey

The survey also showed that Ramaphosa was still a popular figure, but frustrated citizens were demanding action and results, more than just ‘a plan’.

Reza Omar, the strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, said with more than 230 000 jobs lost in first quarter of 2019, there was lots of work to be done by the Ramaphosa administration.  

“With the economy reversing course in the first quarter of 2019 and 73% of South Africans believing that unemployment is the most important problem facing the country, followed by crime and poverty, it’s no surprise that growing the South African economy and attracting investment to create more jobs is currently Ramaphosa’s biggest task – his promise to do so was well received following February’s SONA.

“However, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey results released by StatsSA in May, quarter 1 of 2019 saw 237 000 job losses and the unemployment rate growing to 27.6%. South Africans’ perceived post-election perceptions that the country is moving forward may reverse in due course,” he said.

The performance of the presidents, according to the survey - Zuma vs Ramaphosa. Graphic: Citizens Survey
The perceptions of corruption - April 2018 to May 2019. Graphic: Citizens Survey

The Sunday Independent