Mixed feelings as Ramaphosa gets ready for yet another round of SONA promises

This week, all eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa as he delivers his 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA). Picture Cindy Waxa/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

This week, all eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa as he delivers his 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA). Picture Cindy Waxa/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

Published Feb 4, 2024


This week, all eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa as he delivers his 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Many political commentators expect Ramaphosa to pronounce on the date of the upcoming elections which he said will be announced soon during his keynote address at the recently-concluded ANC NEC lekgotla.

Ramaphosa is expected to deliver his Sona on Thursday at 7pm. His office has indicated that this year’s address will be a significant one as the country marks 30 years of freedom and allows the president an opportunity to reflect on how far the country has come since the dawn of democracy.

Speaking to The Star, political commentator Dr Kagiso Pooe said Ramaphosa is likely to announce the date for the elections while he is also expected to indicate solutions to the Eskom load shedding crisis which has been one of the biggest issues in the past year.

“It’s anticipated mostly because citizens want to know the date of the general elections. The date of the elections is going to be fascinating as the president’s party will also be trying to think how to pick a favourable time to guard against going into deep winter where load shedding might make people vote with it in mind,” Pooe said.

However, Pooe said Ramaphosa -- unlike in previous addresses -- might exercise caution on some of the promises as this might be his last Sona with the uncertainty of the upcoming elections looming.

“This Sona cannot touch on grand plans and ideas, as this is the closure of this Parliament and even though the ANC might come back with a slim margin, he wouldn’t want to promise something he cannot make happen.”

Asked how Ramaphosa has fared with some of the grand promises from the previous Sona, Pooe said it is difficult to measure Ramaphosa against some of his promises.

“This is hard to gauge as most Sona’s during his time and that of the previous president tended not to structure their successes, failures or as yet to be delivered outcomes.

“He will probably try to highlight the three decades of successes of the ANC in government, and not necessarily his tenure’s narrative.

“It would be good to hear him also maybe reflect on the negative experiences citizens in South Africa are currently experiencing,” he said.

With crime, the unemployment rate, load shedding and the Phala Phala farm scandal being at the centre of Ramaphosa’s first term, Professor Sipho Seepe described Ramaphosa’s term as the worst term in the country’s 30 years of democracy.

“President Ramaphosa finishes his term as the worst head of state since 1994.

“Not only has he failed almost on every front, he has also not delivered on his own promises.

“Not long ago, he promised to build a million houses for the people of Alexandra. He knew, or should have known, that this was a pipe dream.

“Sadly, the people of Alexandra, like many South Africans, took him seriously. They can wait until the cows come home, this will not happen.

“He spoke of smart cities and fast trains. Living in a fantasy has become his public signature,” Seepe said.

Seepe said Ramaphosa’s promises from the previous address remain unfulfilled to this day. These include load shedding and turning the economy around.

“He promised to turn the economy around, but he succeeded in running it into the ground. It is precisely for this reason that he has asked South Africans to judge the ANC by what it has done over the last 30 years. He knows full well that for his part, he has nothing to show.”

Seepe said following the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel, Ramaphosa is expected to exploit the situation as part of his success while using it as an election campaign.

“So we should expect the same smoke and mirrors from him. He will try to exploit the Israel-Palestine conflict and the South African government’s intervention at the International Court of Justice to the full.

“He will present himself as a victim and argue that his government is now under pressure from the regime-change brigade.

“Ironically, this is the same regime that he tried to impress upon his assumption of office as president.

“We should expect Sona to be reduced to an election gambit. Unfortunately for him, the opposition is ready. The Phala Phala scandal will not disappear into thin air in the same way as matters involving some of the Cabinet members would be raised,“ he said.

The Star

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