Ramaphosa's Sona must zoom in on corruption, unemployment

President Cyril Ramaphosa putting final touches to his State of the Nation Address (Sona) at his official Residence Genadendaal in Cape Town.
President Cyril Ramaphosa putting final touches to his State of the Nation Address (Sona) at his official Residence Genadendaal in Cape Town.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa will have to indicate how government will effectively deal with corruption when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening.

This was the consensus among political analysts ahead of the much-awaited address in the National Assembly.

The address comes at a time when there’s been worrying revelations of corruption at the inquiry into state capture, low economic growth and high levels of unemployment.

Political analyst Mzoxolo Mpolase said the president would have to indicate how the rule of law would be restored, zoom into corruption and address the poor economic growth.

“It is nice for you to say ‘I’m going on an investment drive’, but everyone will be looking at the fundamentals – the rule of law,” Mpolase said.

He said the president needed to provide a vision that can bring the nation together and rally the people towards one cause, noting that Ramaphosa might also be tempted to speak about government’s successes, but cautioning that this would have to be done with honesty.

“Ramaphosa will need to explain and call everything by name. [He needs to say] what has gone wrong and also understand that he is from the same mud that he is seeking to clean himself of. He needs to say South Africa, we’ve done wrong and this is what we aim to do [to correct things]. He needs to renew the social contract that government has with the people.”

Mpolase said the president's move to travel the world in a bid to attract investment could not work for SA.

“South Africa’s growth question is not a foreign investors' confidence issue. It is a local confidence issue. He needs domestic confidence. He needs to explain why should voters continue to vote. Why should taxpayers continue to pay tax?”

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Ramaphosa will also have to provide direction on how government will bring inclusive economic growth that would benefit everyone. Fikeni said the president may also have to address issues and revelations coming from three ongoing commissions of inquiry.

“The country is waiting to see his signal on the current commissions of inquiry which are revealing such devastating testimonies of how public funds have been looted,” Fikeni said.

He said some of the revelations could impact negatively on the country at a time when investments were urgently needed.

“These are some of the things that are beginning to trouble investors as they question where to now.”

Another political analyst Roger Southall shared Fikeni's sentiments, explaining that the president will not be able to avoid talking about how to deal with corruption.

“He’s got to tell everybody that he is serious about tackling corruption. He also has to assure the public that the determination of the commissions will go ahead and that there will be follow-ups [on what is coming out in the commissions,” said Southall.