It's time to deliver Mr President

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the 2018 State of The Nation Address in Parliament. Ahead of this year's SONA address on Thursday, the writer says the time for sweet-sounding slogans and catch-phrases is over.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the 2018 State of The Nation Address in Parliament. Ahead of this year's SONA address on Thursday, the writer says the time for sweet-sounding slogans and catch-phrases is over.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa will stand before the nation this evening to deliver his State of the Nation Address buoyed by a recent survey that shows that he has 62% approval rating from South African citizens.

It appears that - despite frustrations caused by load-shedding, growing unemployment, the failure by authorities to bring the corrupt to book and the collapse of SAA - the majority of South Africans still pin their hopes on the president.

And this is perfectly understandable, especially given our country's recent history where a president was an immediate and a present danger to our collective survival and prosperity.

Many of our citizens are just relieved that we have come out of that era and that the dignity of the office of the president has been restored.

But Ramaphosa cannot ride on the crest of the wave forever without beginning to take bold and decisive steps to pull the country out of its current crises of low economic growth, high rate of joblessness and collapsing state-owned enterprises.

And this evening will be a test of whether he can.

The time for sweet-sounding slogans and catch-phrases is over. SA is in too much trouble for us to be looking for another uplifting "Thuma Mina" speech.

We need a clear action plan.

However, we would be the last people here at Sowetan to pretend as if the current government has delivered nothing.

We have witnessed our society, especially the previously disadvantaged, improve as a result of state interventions in social welfare, education, housing, healthcare and other areas.

Over the past 25 years, the black middle class has grown tremendously as a direct consequences of government policies.

But it is also true that the kind of decay that inflicts most post-colonial society is beginning to take hold in our country.

Ramaphosa's job is to lead us out of that situation, and from a policy perspective, he has the tools to do so. But does he have the guts to take decisions even when they are unpopular with sections of the society - be it big business, organised labour or any other group? Tonight will go a long way in giving us the answer.

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