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SONA 2023: Ramaphosa’s speech fails to impress opposition parties


Chaos erupts at the SONA address before Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his speech.

Chaos erupts at the SONA address before Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his speech.

Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams

  • Opposition parties were left unimpressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA.
  • Among the matters that irked the opposition was the appointment of an electricity minister in the Presidency.
  • Many have accused Ramaphosa of creating a super-presidency and not taking to task underperforming ministers.

Opposition parties have accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of using his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to centralise power in his office.

Amid a chaotic start to proceedings, Ramaphosa outlined his administration’s plan to address the country’s most pressing challenges.

Ramaphosa announced a raft of new measures to combat the country’s “existential” power crisis, including the declaration of a state of disaster, a new electricity minister, and loans and incentives to move South Africans towards solar energy.

Responding to the SONA, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said the irony was the state of disaster was a crisis entirely of the ANC’s making.

“The invocation of a self-created [state of disaster] and the broader events at SONA this evening, notably the anarchy brought on by the EFF, is another reminder of how the political establishment and Parliament have failed the people of South Africa. A new class of ethical political leadership, committed to public service, is needed to prioritise the needs of all citizens,” he said.

READ | State of disaster declared to prevent ‘total blackout’

But International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said Ramaphosa’s plan to address load shedding should be commended.

“The remedies the president referred to are important steps that South Africa must take. The fact he acknowledged that Eskom will continue to be a player, given its immense size, is very important. But that monopoly is being cut down, and we will have a more rational system,” she said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the country simply could not survive another round of the looting and irrationality we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers h

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his speech during the 2023 SONA at Cape Town City Hall.


“Last time around, the lack of accountability under a national state of disaster enabled Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – who is again in charge of managing the ANC-made load shedding disaster – to issue nonsensical and economically destructive regulations that were entirely disconnected from Covid, including banning everything from cooked chicken to open-toed shoes and alcohol,” he said.

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the SONA addressed the most immediate tasks, which included drastically reducing the severity of load shedding and its impact.

“This will require a massive, effective and sustainable skills revolution, which will strengthen the link between the skills that we develop and the skills the workplace needs.

“The SONA also strengthened the resolve to lift our people out of poverty and unemployment through the social wage, including public employment programmes and the social grants, which all have proven to be a lifeline to our people,” she said.

Following his removal from the chamber, EFF leader Julius Malema said the whole state had been collapsed for the protection of one man.

“Parliament has degenerated, the executive has degenerated, the judiciary has degenerated, for the protection of one man,” he said.

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