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Why the State of the Nation Address no longer excites

Published Feb 11, 2020


For as long as I can remember, the State of the Nation Address - just like the budget speech - is one event which South Africans look forward to. It epitomizes a day where we get to see our politicians strut the red carpet in beautiful outfits and we get to hear what our president has in store for us. But is SONA still relevant?

For many years South Africans have been fed promises, given false hope and assurances of change, but nothing ever comes of these. 

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has a big task on his hands, especially at a time where many people are beginning to ask critical questions about the so-called "New Dawn". 

South Africans are subjected to Eskom blackouts, the financial and service delivery failures of SOEs, crime, student protests and youth unemployment which remain a true reflection of the state of our "nation". 

South Africans have reached a point of no return, as we're sick and tired of false promises and the same old same. Nothing radical has changed, and we continue to live with inequality daily. 

There's no point in wasting taxpayers' money on SONA, which is yet to show real radical changes. Instead, our government is wasting time telling us about the problems we already know. Every year we sit in front of our televisions listening to the same old script, without any movement. 

I for one think President "Thuma Mina" will bring nothing new to SONA, instead, we'll be told of the same failures of our SOE's and its bailouts, we'll be made to believe that things will eventually be ok and that we shouldn't worry as citizens and he'll try to inspire confidence, which many people are starting to lose in this administration. 

Our government is faced with a daunting task heading into the new decade, as South Africans are beginning to ask critical long-awaited questions. It faces a challenge of having to prove to citizens that unlike previous administrations, it's doing things differently. 

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I for one think SONA needs to be reimagined in a sense where we cannot be subjected to the same lyrics all the time. Its as if we're listening to a long jazz song which is constantly put on repeat. We need to ask ourselves what has changed from the previous SONA. Or what was promised to us that was actually delivered?

* Modibe Modiba is a student at the University of South Africa.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL

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Cyril Ramaphosa