We must find ways to make Sona's promises a reality

As citizens, we should learn from Madiba and use the milestone of his release from prison to help government address some of the challenges we continue to face, the writer says.
As citizens, we should learn from Madiba and use the milestone of his release from prison to help government address some of the challenges we continue to face, the writer says.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

At the beginning of each year, millions of people across the country gather to watch and listen to the president of the Republic of South Africa articulate his vision during the State of the Nation Address.

He will stand before a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament and set out what we need to do to achieve the SA we want.

In his address, the president will speak about political, economic and social issues and the general state of SA, as well as the country's relations in Africa and abroad. He will also reflect on the achievements of his administration from the previous year and communicate programmes of government for the year ahead and beyond.

Therefore, when President Cyril Ramaphosa takes to the podium on Thursday to deliver this year's address, the nation will be waiting in anticipation. The address will be broadcast live to millions of South Africans.

Most of the pronouncements by the president will shed further light on the 2019-2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework, which outlines the priorities and targets of the sixth administration.

The MTSF enables government to monitor progress in the implementation of programmes of action over the next five years.

It also provides guidelines for the plans that have to be developed for both provincial and local government.

A few days later, various political parties in parliament will debate the president's address. This is one of the hallmarks of our open and democratic government and it forms part of constant oversight of government's actions.

The president will also reply to expand on issues raised by the MPs.

This year's address coincides with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of former president Nelson Mandela's release from the Victor Verster prison on February 11 1990.

It is just over six years since Madiba's passing and the government is still committed to live up to the vision and principles that he espoused. As citizens, we should learn from Madiba and use this milestone to help government address some of the challenges we continue to face.

Madiba strongly believed that improving the lives of people depends on our collective effort and that we should become active in our communities so that we can truly restore the human dignity of all South Africans.

As citizens, we also need to understand that our responsibility goes beyond just listening to the content of the speech.

We should find ways to ensure that those pronouncements are cascaded down to municipal level by regularly talking to our elected public representatives.

One way to do that is to use various platforms such as ward committees that have been created to ensure service delivery becomes a reality and provide feedback on various developments in our areas.

This year's annual address gives government an opportunity to build on the achievements of the 25 years of freedom. It is thus important that no South African misses this important date with the president at 7pm on Thursday 13 so all of us can grow the SA we want.

*Williams is the acting director-general at Government Communication and Information Systems

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