Ministers react to SONA 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cape Town – Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), saying that it highlighted government’s plans to transform the economy and deal with poverty and unemployment.

Speaking to SAnews after the President’s speech, the Minister also said that his department would continue to attract young people to get involved in agriculture in a bid to set the sector on the road to prosperity.

“The President’s speech commands us as the department working with the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development to ensure that as land is made available to the people, our department is ready to ensure that those who receive land are able to receive assistance, even financing.

“We believe that if we are able to reach our target of one million hectares of land by 2019, we would have dented the scourge of poverty,” he said.

In his speech, the President announced that government was working with the private sector to develop an Agricultural Policy Action Plan to bring one million hectares of under-utilized land into full production over the next three years.

Plans to address energy challenges

The President also spent much of the speech announcing key plans to deal with short, medium and long term energy challenges.

He said to boost the economy, there was a need to deal with the energy challenges as a matter of urgency.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said in reaction to the speech: “While on the one hand the grid is constrained, on the other hand we are also looking at a process that helps to stabilize Eskom and in the long term bring new energy on-line”.  

The President also called on members of the public to use electricity sparingly, and encouraged individuals and households to use gas stoves to cook, while instructing state-owned buildings to be energy efficient.

The Minister said she was, overall, happy with the plan to turn around Eskom and also happy with the power utility, saying it produces 95% electricity in the country.

Plan to deal with TB

Another highlight in the speech was the plan to deal with Tuberculosis (TB), with a special focus on three communities, offenders at Correctional Services facilities,mineworkers and mining communities.

Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, welcomed the announcement.

“I am absolutely happy because South Africans … people know a lot about HIV/ Aids and even an ordinary person on the street can talk a lot about HIV/Aids - but they don’t know enough about TB.

“Either percent of the people who die and are HIV positive are actually killed by one disease – TB,” he said.

He said the plan would help government to deal with the disease, and on World TB Day and going forward, government would go to six mining community districts to conduct screenings of the disease in a bid to reduce the scourge. – SAnews.gov.za

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