Powder Puff Politics: Ramaphosa’s 6th Sona a poor show, SA deserves better

South african business magnate Dr Iqbal Survé shares his views on Sona 2024. Picture: Supplied

South african business magnate Dr Iqbal Survé shares his views on Sona 2024. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 11, 2024


PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa’s 6th State of the Nation Address (Sona) was an insult to the nation. The ANC is more concerned with “staying in power” in the upcoming election than in providing the framework for democracy to reign supreme within which our people can truly be free and prosper.

Ramaphosa’s speech might have had moments of promise but ultimately, it fell short of addressing critical issues plaguing South Africa. While he touched upon some key areas of concern, there were glaring omissions and a lack of concrete plans to address the country’s most pressing challenges, that served to highlight the string of broken promises the ANC has achieved in this administration.

His storytelling, because that’s what it was, a fabrication that included the tale of Tinstwalo, Ramaphosa, and the ANC’s poster child for democracy. But a helicopter view of the speech shows that instead of the freedom of self that was won in 1994, democracy’s child is dependent on the state for her good fortune.

Even the prospect of a job and work is not obtained through own merit, but once again, only because the Government has made it possible by dictating, how many people of colour can be employed by business – how utterly demeaning to our people’s intelligence.

In fact, under ANC’s rule and Rampahosa’s watch, we have quietly had the thermometer turned up and without noticing it, we are now living in a dictatorship, not a free and fair democracy as we thought. The principles enshrined in our Constitution have become fables.

We are governed by a less-than-honest president who has been shown to fall far short of the upstanding person required to be our country’s leader. We have a self-serving government that puts itself above the people who elected them.

For democracy to flourish we need a free market and a vibrant economy. While Ramaphosa acknowledged the need for economic recovery, his Sona lacked a comprehensive strategy to tackle the root causes of South Africa’s economic woes – cadre deployment, nepotism, and rampant greed and corruption.

There was a notable absence of clear plans to address unemployment, particularly among the youth that has an expanded rate of 60% unemployment and stimulated growth in key sectors. In his speech, he cites: “Just this week, we published new regulations to reform our visa system, which will make it easier to attract the skills that our economy needs and create a dynamic ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

We have one of the largest youngest work-ready populations in the world, yet because our education system is so deficient, they cannot get jobs and now Ramaphosa wants us to applaud him because he’s made it possible to bring in outsiders to do the jobs our own people should have the skills to do. This is not moving our country forward.

While I agree reforming the visa system is necessary, as it will assist in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), it’s not anything to crow about.

Corruption, as we all know, is a significant obstacle to progress and development in South Africa. Ramaphosa’s address failed to outline robust measures to combat it effectively. The speech lacked specific plans to hold corrupt individuals and institutions accountable, strengthen anti-corruption agencies, and implement transparent governance practices. Without addressing corruption head-on, any efforts to advance the country’s development agenda will be undermined.

But I guess it is hard to action any solid proposals around tackling corruption when it is government leaders and officials (not all of them) who are the ones that are pulling the strings and facilitating the process in the first place. It only takes one bad apple to rot the barrel, so they say.

South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies globally, yet Ramaphosa’s address did not adequately prioritise tackling social inequality. There was a lack of emphasis on redistributive policies, access to quality education and healthcare, and addressing housing shortages. Without addressing these disparities, social cohesion will continue to be undermined, hindering the country’s long-term stability and prosperity.

No critique of Ramaphosa’s speech would be complete without addressing crime and security, which remains a pervasive issue in the country. Yet, like the rest of his powder puff speech, Ramaphosa offered few concrete proposals to address this challenge. Without addressing crime and insecurity, South Africa will struggle to attract investment, promote tourism, and ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens.

5 points to get us back on track:

  • Our country
  • Our people
  • Our achievements
  • Our failures
  • Our democracy

In short, fire the current dispensation, and remove the leaders who have brought our country to its knees with their lies and greed. Choose freedom. Choose peace. Choose unity. Choose a future of prosperity.

When the last drop of water has gone, it will not matter how much money you have or how fancy your house is, you too will be thirsty.

South Africans deserve better than Ramaphosa.

* Dr Iqbal Survé is the executive chairman of Independent Media.