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Same old, same old: Opposition parties slam Ramaphosa’s ’rehashed’ SONA

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation address in strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations and in the form of a hybrid joint sitting. Picture: Esa Alexander/Pool

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation address in strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations and in the form of a hybrid joint sitting. Picture: Esa Alexander/Pool

Published Feb 12, 2021

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Cape Town - Political parties have slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday night as a rehash of previous speeches.

DA leader John Steenhuizen said that Ramaphosa remained “a spectator president looking on with dismay”.

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“Tonight, we needed to hear about real progress on real solutions to our real challenges. We needed to hear the practical steps that are being taken to roll out vaccines, get our economy growing, and restore the political accountability that is essential in a democracy,” said Steenhuizen

“Yet, President Ramaphosa remains a spectator president looking on with dismay as if he has no personal agency to alter the tragic course of events unfolding in our beloved country.

“He used beautiful words and soothing tones to offer empty promises and impractical plans.”

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu told the SABC: “There is nothing fundamentally new that the president has said. Ant that amounts to insanity because insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

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IFP MP and chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that it lacked specifics, was generic and was a box-ticking exercise.

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“He wants to establish a water engine when he’s got a water board and a Department of Water and Sanitation. All these entities that he’s creating are by and large an ambition of state machinery or governance that is failing and now having to patch it up with all sorts of other machinations.

“It doesn’t bode well for stability and also the cost that is involved in setting up these things is certainly going to drive the public wage bill up and the speech has not demonstrated a capacity to actually to manage SOEs,” Hlengwa said.

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He said Ramaphosa had not mentioned the flailing national carrier South African Airways (SAA) which remains a fundamental issue to be dealt with.

Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus leader, said that Ramaphosa was living in a dream world by talking of smart cities and that the president had lost touch with people at ground level who are unemployed.

“He referred to the rebuilding of the economy but he really didn’t say anything new. It is still the same story, I wonder how many times he has used the word ’must be done’, yes we agree many things must be done but we don’t see the results,” Groenewald said.

He said that although the establishment of an anti-corruption body was a bit late it still remained a step in the right direction.

“He should have done that a long time ago, it’s not the first time we are looking at this whole issue of looting and stealing of taxpayers’ money,” Groenewald added.

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said that except for Ramaphosa’s pronouncements on Covid-19 the entire speech was a repeat of previous SONAs he had delivered.

“He raised the concern about corruption but no plan about how they are going to deal with it this year that would be different from what they did in other years. At the Zondo Commission Brian Molefe said the president is also corrupt and we expected him to say ‘even though I’ve been implicated, I have not done anything wrong and I’m willing to also appear before the commission’ but he said nothing about that,” Meshoe said.

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Political Bureau

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Cyril Ramaphosa

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