Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Focus on FW de Klerk distracted attention from the troubling state of the nation

The democracy disruption by the Economic Freedom Fighters during the State of the Nation address (Sona) and the subsequent debate about apartheid’s last president diverted the public’s attention President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech. 

There was no “substance” to the EFF’s disruptions their action was “poorly planned and badly executed”, political analyst Angelo Fick said at a post-Sona critical thinking forum, hosted by the Mail & Guardian in partnership with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, on Friday in Cape Town.

So we have to be mindful of the fact that [when] we speak of the president you’re speaking of the ANC that has deployed [him] into that stage, right. So I don’t subscribe to the view that we can lay all the blame at his feet. It’s the entire institution that needs to be addressed

Rebecca Sibanda

He said the EFF’s disruptions have become an “expensive sitcom” that plays out annually. “It is the idea of disruption mistaken for actual disruption. It is the idea of rhetorical flourish, mistaken for actual political engagement,” Fick said. 

Analysts at the forum did not have many positive things to say about Ramaphosa’s fourth State of the Nation address. 

For Fick the speech was contradictory and failed to read the mood of the country — and Ramaphosa seemed to make things up as he spoke. 

Another political analyst, Khaya Sithole, said it was not immediately clear what the theme of Ramaphosa’s speech was, but that on deeper inspection it appeared the thrust was about fixing so much of what was wrong with the state. To still be talking about fixing things “is problematic”, he said.  

Rebecca Sibanda, a legal officer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, disagreed, saying it might well be that Ramaphosa has not fixed things in the time that he has been president, but that it is to be expected because he is not an independent entity. With Ramaphosa “deployed” by the ANC, the State of the Nation address is instruction and not his own. 

“So we have to be mindful of the fact that [when] we speak of the president you’re speaking of the ANC that has deployed [him] into that stage, right. So I don’t subscribe to the view that we can lay all the blame at his feet. It’s the entire institution that needs to be addressed,” she said.

Sibanda criticised the president for not speaking about human rights, such as immigration and the refugee crisis in the country. “Those are real, serious issues, real people issues that are not going away,” she said. 

Fick said Ramaphosa’s speech was contradictory in that the president talked about tackling the climate emergency and spoke about creating jobs through the car industry. 

“There is  a contradiction here. If you’re going to be building lots and lots of cars, you are not actually resolving the climate emergency, you’re contributing to it. So your solution for the unemployment problem and your solution or response to mitigate the climate crisis cannot have this kind of logical contradiction,” Fick said.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Tobacco farmers want the taxman to do more to control...

The Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association the introduction of a minimum price level for cigarettes

More top stories

South Africa moves back to adjusted level 3, schools to...

Vaccination capacity to be increased as the government announces financial support measures for those affected by Covid-19 restrictions and the recent civil unrest

Water sector to clean up its act

The Blue and Green Drop programmes are being relaunched to rebuild SA’s often poorly maintained and ‘looted’ water systems

Afforestation can hinder fight against global warming if done wrong,...

A simplistic approach to tree restoration without not properly accounting for the complexities of plant and atmosphere interactions can cause problems

Carbon tax to align to UN treaties

Amendments to offset regulations published on 8 July give clarity on big emitters carrying old carbon credits to a new framework

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…