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Has SA’s President Ramaphosa kept his 2018 State of the Nation promises?

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to deliver South Africa’s annual State of the Nation address tomorrow night in Cape Town. And Africa Check will fact-check the claims he makes, live.

Last year we found Ramaphosa’s claims to be mostly correct (he got two wrong). But what about the promises he made? Have they been kept?

Here we follow up on four of his promises on summits, youth employment, schools and HIV treatment.

Jobs summit

PROMISE: “[We will] convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.”

VERDICT: Promise kept

The 2018 Jobs Summit was held on 4 and 5 October 2018.

Ramaphosa gave the opening address, where he announced a “presidential jobs committee” would make sure the measures agreed to at the summit were properly carried out. - Naphtali Khumalo

Youth employment

PROMISE: “Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place... unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.”

VERDICT: Promise kept

The 2018 State of the Nation address was delivered on 16 February 2018.

The Youth Employment Service was officially launched on 27 March  2018. It aims to give more than a million young South Africans paid work experience over the next three years.

The initiative is a partnership between the government, business, labour and civil society. It  will also provide job placements and training for people aged 18 to 35. 

According to the website, 319 companies have registered for the initiative to date, with just 6,939 “work experiences” committed.  - Naphtali Khumalo


PROMISE: The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative will “complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year”.

VERDICT: Promise broken

The department of basic education replaces unsafe and “inappropriate” school structures under the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi).

The initiative started in 2011 and identified 496 schools as “inappropriate structures”. These included schools built from mud.

All the schools should have been replaced by March 2014.

Programme yet to meet targets

In his 2018 State of the Nation address, Ramaphosa updated the country on the progress of Asidi. He said “at least 187 schools” had been completed.

He promised that the programme “will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year” – 31 March 2019.

The basic education department’s most recent data shows that 205 schools have been completed under Asidi. This is less than half the original target.

The remaining schools will take years to replace, according to the department’s performance plan. Fifty schools are to be built in the 2018/19 financial year, followed by 17 in 2019/20 and 15 in 2020/21. - Cayley Clifford


PROMISE: “We will initiate an additional 2 million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.”

VERDICT: In the works

Ramaphosa made his commitment at the end of the 2017/18 financial year. That year, the department of health reported that an estimated 4,189,070 people were on antiretroviral treatment.

The department’s latest data is from June 2018. It shows that 4,224,982 people were then on antiretroviral treatment - an increase of just 35,912 people.

Department targets differ from promise

The number of people on treatment would need to increase to close 6.2 million by December 2020. But planning estimates from the health department suggest that the promise might be ambitious.

The department’s performance plan puts its target at 6,100,000 people on treatment by March 2021. At the current rate, Ramaphosa’s promise may not be kept. - Lloyd Hazvineyi

Further reading


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