Notes on the SONA speech

Janine Myburgh, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The announcement by the state president that urgent attention will be given to ending the two-capital system in order to save money could have a negative effect on the Cape Town economy if Pretoria is chosen as the capital.

This has been a concern to local business for many years, but I hope we have reached a stage where the growth in the local economy and particularly tourism will enable us to take the blow.

The centre of Cape Town is thriving, and I hope we will be able to grow into the vacuum left by parliament and its supporting services.

I am encouraged by the undertaking to review immigration legislation to make it easier to bring much-needed skills into the country. I was also pleased to see a more understanding approach to business, but the chamber is still extremely concerned by continuing plans to restrict land ownership to 12 000 hectares and to stop foreign investors from buying land.

I detected signs of an orderly retreat from plans to invest in new nuclear power stations. For the first time there were qualifications about merely “testing the market” and proceeding “at a pace a scale the country can afford”.

We may eventually need nuclear power, but what’s the hurry when the private sector has already invested R195 billion in alternative energy with the promise of more to come.

It makes sense to stand back and allow the private sector to continue pouring money in solar and wind farms.

The chamber was interested to learn that some state-owned enterprises would be “phased out” and this would lead to a reduction of national debt levels.

Clearly this means sales or privatisation, but which SOEs are on the market?

We would like to suggest that the process should start the sale of a power station or two.