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Feb 9, 2024






 SONA 2024



By Gerhard Papenfus



After a multitude of disappointments and, almost without exception, meaningless speeches, only the most hardened ANC supporter and the very naïve, who are most probably the same people, find any value in anything the President has to say. His annual jabbering during his State of the Nation address was no exception.


Very seldom something of real substance is said, and in exceptional cases where the President actually says something of apparent value, it eventually turns to dust.


Even for the most patriotic South African, it takes self-discipline to bring yourself to the point where you set aside an hour of your time, not in anticipation of something profound being said during SONA, but merely because sitting there might be the right thing to do as a good citizen.


Even worse than expected, the President’s address last night reached a new low point. For the ignorant, it may have sounded like utopia, but for those who live here and experience South Africa’s decline, the President’s 90 minutes verbose ranting was a nightmare. The picture he sketched was of a recovering South Africa, while the opposite is true; under his leadership the pace of decline has increased.


He might have impressed his staunch supporters by highlighting the imagined “achievements” of the ANC, but necessarily steered clear of addressing the true state of the nation under ANC rule, which is the true purpose of SONA. The ‘nation’ could not take anything away from his address, except to conclude that the President is either delusional or simply a boldfaced liar.


The areas which he boasted about, instead of illustrating improvement, rather emphasised how bankrupt the ANC is in terms of both policy and execution. Instead of admitting the ANC’s failing policies, he crooned about the 27 million on welfare grants. This, together with the 42% unemployment rate and 60% youth unemployment, is the culmination of the ANC’s failings, the living proof that illustrates the extent of the trouble South Africa finds itself in, but the President rambled through his speech as if nothing is wrong.


The problem with this president is that he creates the impression of being successful and capable, whilst he is a con artist. He even initially misled business by creating the appearance of being a businessman. He is no businessman; he is just a socialist who loves money.


The irony of last night, is that it will scare away investors. The fact that the president has illustrated that neither he, nor his leadership, have an inkling of South Africa’s deeply entrenched failures, is the worst message he could have sent.


The ANC cannot bring improvement in any of the areas highlighted, no matter how hard they try, simply because they don’t have the ability to bring about the necessary improvement. They find themselves in ideological bondage and devoid of any execution capabilities as a result of cadre deployment and race-based appointment policies.


SONA is an opportunity for a statesman to take a nation into his confidence and humbly present the true state of that nation, admitting shortcomings and the areas in which the nation is struggling, calling on them to contribute to the solution. Instead, the president used this opportunity to campaign for the upcoming election.


Gerhard Papenfus is the Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).



NEASA Media Department



Charis Esema – Onaolapo

Media Liaison


083 393 4435 


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