PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has avoided telling the nation about his progress on the promises made since he occupied the office and focused more on what the previous administrations achieved over the past 30 years.
Ramaphosa was speaking during his 6th State of the Nation Address at the Cape Town City Hall this week.
Instead of talking more about the promises he made since he took over in 2018, Ramaphosa hailed the 30 years of the ANC government and continued to blame the state capture for his failures in what many believe was a campaigning speech ahead of the elections.
For the past five years, Ramaphosa promised to stabilise and revitalise state-owned enterprises, eradicate unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities and a build new smart city in Lanseria.
He also promised to clean up the state of crime and corruption, address major constraints in the economy and unlock job opportunities.
On Thursday, Ramaphosa said the government had cast off the tyranny of apartheid and built a democratic state based on the will of the people. He said they had established strong institutions to protect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all people.
Ramaphosa further said that they had transformed the lives of millions of South Africans, providing the necessities of life and creating opportunities that never existed before.
“We have enabled a diverse economy whose minerals, agricultural products and manufactured goods reach every corner of the world, while creating jobs in South Africa. As a country, we have returned to the community of nations, extending a hand of peace and friendship to all countries and all peoples.
“As a country, we have returned to the community of nations, extending a hand of peace and friendship to all countries and all peoples,” Ramaphosa said.
He said although there may have been times when events beyond our borders have held back our progress, but the greatest damage was caused during the era of state capture.
Ramaphosa said the effect of state capture continue to be felt across society – from the shortage of freight locomotives to crumbling public service, from poor performance of “our” power stations to failed development projects.
Although the likes of Zizi Kodwa, Gwede Mantashe, Nomvula Mokonyane and other ANC members who were implicated in the State Capture Commission of Inquiry were not charged, Ramaphosa said a great progress has been made in bringing those responsible for state capture to justice.
He said more than 200 accused people have been prosecuted and more were under investigation.
Many were disappointed with Ramaphosa’s speech.
National Employers’ Association of South Africa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said Ramaphosa might have impressed his staunch supporters by highlighting the “imagined achievements” of the ANC, but necessarily steered clear of addressing the true state of the nation under the ANC leadership, which was the true purpose of SONA.
“The nation could not take anything away from his address, except to conclude that the President is either delusional or simply a boldfaced liar,” Papenfus said.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said this was the most embarrassing SONA. Seepe said Ramaphosa was desperately clutching at the straws after drowning in the sea of failures.
“He invented successes that were not there. Under his administration, the country was subjected to prolonged days of darkness. The economy has tanked. In doing so, jobs were lost. He has presided over an administration that is clueless when it comes to escalation of violent crimes. All his promises have come to naught. This is a president who is confident, but always bereft of the South African reality,” Seepe said.
Seepe further said: “Instead of admitting failure, he repeatedly uses State Capture and COVID-19 as excuses. This does not wash. Local and international surveys indicate that corruption has increased under his watch.
“With the Phala Phala scandal hanging over his head, he should be the last to lecture anyone about political morality. In the end, no amount of faked sophistry will save him from his demonstrable failure. The reality has caught up with him and his administration. And it would seem that the voters are doing the same.”
Governing expert and political analyst Sandile Swana said Ramaphosa raised the issues that have been known since 1994 but does not have a proven record of those problems.
He said that Ramaphosa does not have a credible plan to solve those challenges.
“What he also does not is the time to solve those issues because his term of office is going to expire in the next six months or so. The only thing that the President could do in the SONA speech was to ask for another term of office for himself and the ANC to sell the country a children bedtime story, to say ‘I can do wonders that I have never done before’. That is the only thing that the President could do yesterday (Thursday),” Swana said.
He said Ramaphosa offered nothing and deepened poverty in the country.
“The cash-grants that he offers apparently have now acknowledged a minimum of 25 million people that are living with poverty, and need grant from the State. But we know that number is above 31 million. The ANC and Ramaphosa have deepened poverty in South Africa,” he said.
Political analyst Kim Heller said Ramaphosa’s speech was the worst he has delivered to date.
“One would have expected a solid, solution focussed speech ahead of the crucial upcoming national elections. But the President delivered an address which had little vision for a better tomorrow, little to no substance and a large dash of disconnection from the daily difficulties of the average and poorer citizens.
The speech offered no solutions to the spate of corruption, load shedding, infrastructure and service collapse that is engulfing the nation. One can only hope that this is the last SONA of Ramaphosa,’’ she said.