JOHANNESBURG – Analysts said that an unenviable task lay ahead for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is set to deliver his 7th state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday.
Ramaphosa was urged to let go of the rhetoric that characterised his previous addresses, and to be decisive and take more risks.
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Ramaphosa’s address would take place amid a deepening economic crisis, worsened by Eskom’s woes.
At the same time, he would have to report back on efforts to stamp out corruption, and to address the many social ills facing the country.
The 2023 Sona also came at a time when Ramaphosa’s political party, the African National Congress (ANC), faced the very real possibility of getting less than 50% of the vote in next year’s general elections.
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In the almost 5 years Ramaphosa was in charge, critics say he went from ‘Rama-phoria’ to being referred to as ‘Rama-promises’, and, at times, ‘Rama-lies’ – a reflection of the legacy he was building while he was in office.
The Sona would present Ramaphosa with another opportunity to change the negative narrative and to sell a promise of hope, stability, and progress to the country.
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However, University of Pretoria’s Dr Sthembile Mbete was not convinced he would rise to the occasion.
“You either make decisions, or you don’t, and there’s a serious reluctance, on his part, to act, and it seems as if he’s always waiting to have perfect information.”
While the ANC was blamed for often getting in his way, it, too, needed to realise it was at a point of no return.
Political Futures Consultancy’s Daniel Silke said that what made 2023’s Sona different was the worsening energy crisis, coupled with the looming general elections.
“Political parties are largely driven mainly by the fear of losing power and I think that for the first time the ANC is going to have to wake up and smell the roses.”
Ramaphosa is set to address the nation on Thursday evening.