Unmasking the Sona illusion

Chris Maxon

Chris Maxon

Published Feb 12, 2024


Chris Maxon

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent State of the Nation address, #SONA2024, was intended to inspire hope and confidence in the future of South Africa. However, amid the grandiose claims and boasts of progress lies a stark reality that cannot be ignored.

One of the most glaring toxic traits of our political landscape is the tendency to celebrate actions that should be considered basic responsibilities of governance. Ramaphosa’s address sought to deflect attention from critical issues facing citizens, but let’s delve deeper into the realities obscured by his rhetoric.

Ramaphosa proudly highlighted the provision of meals to more than nine million school children, conveniently sidestepping the harsh truth that a staggering 62% of children in South Africa live in impoverished households.

Particularly alarming is the fact that nearly three-quarters of children in certain provinces (Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) endure the burden of poverty. While initiatives like school feeding programmes are undoubtedly beneficial, they merely scratch the surface of a much deeper societal issue.

Moreover, Ramaphosa’s mention of efforts to expand access to electricity fails to acknowledge the underlying crisis that necessitated such measures. Load shedding has wreaked havoc on South Africa’s economy, denting growth prospects and exacerbating inflation. The reliance on outdated energy infrastructure has left public services, including health-care facilities, crippled by power cuts.

The recent surge in rooftop solar installations is not a testament to government prowess but rather a response to a dire national situation that should have been addressed proactively.

It is disingenuous for the president to claim easy victories in areas where progress is driven by global trends and technological advancements rather than government policies. Rooftop solar capacity has increased by 349% in a little over a year (2022 to 2023) in South Africa.

The global solar energy market size was worth around $90.4 billion in 2022 and is predicted to grow to around $215.9bn (R4 trillion) by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of roughly 11.5% between 2023 and 2030. This has nothing to do with ANC policy or “Ramafailing” inactions.

The exponential growth of internet usage in South Africa is primarily fuelled by factors such as digital payment solutions and the digitisation of businesses, not by ANC initiatives. The president’s attempts to take credit for the developments highlights his detachment from the realities faced by citizens.

Wondernet reports that in the past 10 years, internet traffic in South Africa has blossomed, with a growth rate of 442 000%. Largely attributed to the increase in high-definition video streaming, South Africans are spending more time online than ever before.

Furthermore, Ramaphosa’s failure to acknowledge the structural challenges plaguing South Africa is deeply concerning. The country’s economic transformation has been marred by a lack of meaningful progress, resulting in a form of accumulation that is parasitic rather than sustainable. As we navigate the Digital Revolution, it is imperative that our leaders embrace new ideas and solutions that reflect the evolving needs of our society – new leaders, new solutions.

Ramaphosa’s Sona falls short of addressing the pressing issues facing South Africa. Instead of claiming easy victories and perpetuating falsehoods, he must confront the harsh realities of poverty, inequality and systemic challenges head-on.

For example, Tintswalo could be one of the unemployed doctors (#UnemployedDoctors2024) that his government fails to absorb despite a seven-year lead time.

The future of our nation hinges on bold leadership and innovative solutions that prioritise the needs of all citizens, not just a select few. It’s time for South Africans to demand new leaders and new solutions that will pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive future.

#2024IsOur1994 signals the need for transformative change, and it is high time our leaders listened.

Chris Maxon is a member of the Rise Mzansi Provincial Leadership Collective.

The Star