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Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address must give ‘realistic hope’, say analysts

Eyewitness News canvassed a range of political analysts for their views on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth State of the Nation Address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in a joint sitting of Parliament on 20 June 2019. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday night, political commentators have a simple message for him – tell it straight.

In June, Ramaphosa used his speech to urge South Africans to dream big, in spite of the social and economic challenges facing the country.

He spoke of smart cities and bullet trains at a time when people could no longer rely on the rail service to get them to work on time.

Ramaphosa’s first Sona after the May elections last year was long on what the country should be reaching for but short on concrete plans on how to get there. Now, the need for decisive action was more urgent than ever.

“People aren’t interested in grand ideas, smart cities and so forth, they want to be able to walk through their cities they already have without being mugged,” said political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

Sona 2020 can't be business as usual - Judith February

The Institute for Security Studies’ Judith February said the time for lofty rhetoric was over.

“The president needs to come to Parliament, to be realistic, and play open cards with the country as to how dire the situation really is – and also to set out a few realisable goals so that we can all work towards those,” said political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni.

“People have given the president the benefit of the doubt. Beyond a certain threshold, if nothing yields, they might begin to lose patience in greater numbers. To that extent, I do think that it is a message that must give realistic hope,” he added.

Ramaphosa 'unfazed' by EFF threats to disrupt Sona