Since succeeding Jacob Zuma in February 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a slew of promises, from ending load shedding and fixing state-owned companies to building smart cities and high-speed trains.
Six years later, most of Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” pledges have come to nought, while South Africa continues to be weighed down by a lethargic economy, unemployment, crime, and corruption in his ANC government.
Tomorrow night, the president will deliver his final State of the Nation Address (Sona) at 7pm for the sixth democratically-elected Parliament before voters go to the polls to elect new MPs later this year.
In his 2019 Sona, Ramaphosa promised to improve the living conditions of all South Africans and create jobs; however, in the first quarter of 2023, South Africa’s unemployment rate hit a record 32.9% – the highest in the world.
Ramaphosa said that progress had been made in restoring the integrity and capacity of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with the appointment experienced and ethical directors.
He said the Presidential SOE Council, which will provide political oversight and strategic management to reform, reposition, and revitalise SOEs, had been established.
However, this Presidential SOE Council’s work is yet to be seen as load shedding continues indefinitely and Transnet faces more challenges as the port crisis continues.
“Eskom is in crisis, and the risks it poses to South Africa are great. It could severely damage our economic and social development ambitions,” he said, adding that a turnaround plan was in place.
Among the promises Ramaphosa made over six Sonas are:
● Unbundling Eskom into three divisions.
● Rooting out corruption Insurance.
● Expropriation of land without compensation.
● Legalising and commercialising dagga.
He said the government would continue to build human settlements in well-located areas that bring together economic opportunities and services.
A Human Settlements Development Bank, which leverages public and private sector financing to aid in housing delivery, would be established.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said South Africans and opposition parties have accepted that Ramaphosa has failed the country and that promises ultimately ring hollow.
“We have accepted that he has failed in his job as head of state. There’s nothing more we can believe coming from him.
“He promised that the recommendations of the Zondo commission [into state capture] would be implemented, and yet no one has been [jailed] so far.
“He has promoted and employed people implicated in the Zondo commission,” said Seepe.
Nomfundo Xolo from Rise Mzansi said she did not believe the president had made the required progress on the promises made in his last Sona.
“Load shedding unemployment and violent crime remain some of the biggest challenges that not only affect the quality of life of South Africans but also continue to cripple the economy,” said Xolo.
Zama Mgwatyu, programme manager at the Development Action Group, said that 30 years into democracy the country was still very far from solving the housing crisis that South Africa faces, which Ramaphosa also promised to fix.
“People need housing in safe, integrated, and well-located areas.