South Africa

SONA 2023 UPDATES

Ramaphosa announces National State of Disaster, new Minister of Electricity to deal with power crisis

Ramaphosa announces National State of Disaster, new Minister of Electricity to deal with power crisis
Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's president, delivers his annual address during the state of the nation ceremony at City Hall in Cape Town, South Africa, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. With next years elections gearing up to be the most hotly contested since apartheid ended in 1994, Ramaphosa needs to provide solutions to the countrys myriad problems to bolster his chances of winning another term. Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Updates and analysis on President Cyril Ramaphosa's 2023 State of the Nation Address.

What you need to know:

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the 2023 State of the Nation Address (Sona) to open the parliamentary year.
  • For the second consecutive year, the address took place at the Cape Town City Hall due to ongoing repairs of the National Assembly Chamber.
  • Opposition Members of Parliament delayed the start of the address with what the Speaker termed “spurious points of order”.
  • The EFF was eventually forcibly removed by armed security services, a first in the history of democratic South Africa.
  • Ramaphosa announced a National State of Disaster for the energy crisis and will be appointing a Minister of Electricity in the Presidency to manage the power crisis.

Read Ramaphosa’s full speech here.


Daily Maverick logo By Ethan van Diemen

Ramaphosa outlines ‘extraordinary measures’ to deal with energy crisis, SA’s ‘existential threat’

‘Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. The energy crisis is an existential threat to our economy and social fabric. We must spare no effort, and we must allow no delay in implementing these measures,’ said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

ramaphosa energy crisis
(Image: iStock)





Daily Maverick logo By Marianne Thamm

Funding boost for NPA, SIU, SAPS and courts, Ramaphosa announces in delayed address

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised ‘significant funding’ for the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, the courts and the Special Investigating Unit.

sona crime
The South African Police Service at a parade at the Castle Of Good Hope prior to the 2023 State Of The Nation Address in Cape Town on 9 February 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images | NPA logo. (Image: Supplied)

Daily Maverick logo Queenin Masuabi and Velani Ludidi

The first 45 minutes — High drama as EFF members booted out after trying to storm the City Hall stage

The EFF followed through with its plan to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening. This ended in clashes between the Red Berets and security personnel and their eventual removal from the City Hall chambers.

The first 45 minutes — EFF members booted out after trying to storm the stage where Ramaphosa was trying to speak
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema disrupts President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

This speech demands our vigilance and audit. Vigilance in and about a state of disaster. Vigilance of the spending that can go awry. Vigilance about the six month promise for an ease to the pain of power cuts the President has promised – that’s August 2023. Let’s see. – Ferial Haffajee


Ramaphosa quotes former president Nelson Mandela: “Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be  born a society of which all humanity will be proud. 

“Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African  reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the  nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.” 

To build such a society, to overcome the great difficulties of the moment, we need to work  together. We need to stay the course.  We need, as a nation, at this time more than any other, to reveal our true character. We need to work together and leave no-one behind. 


Our country is founded on a constitution that reaffirms the democratic values of dignity, equality and freedom and the rights of each one of us. The action we’ve outlined, building on the work we’ve already done, will bring us closer to that vision…. They will enable us to work together, and to work together with purposes. To emerge from this crisis as a nation that is transformed, says Ramaphosa


“We are working to capacitate the Witness Protection Unit and will introduce amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act and Witness Protection Act to strengthen protections for whistleblowers.” Just last week Daily Maverick reported on a whistleblower, Martha Ngoye, who won an arbitration award against her own employer, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. She had been victimised to the point where Prasa wanted to sue her for more than R50 million – Sune Payne


Tamsin Metelerkamp Government will be partnering with the private sector to support proper functioning of the 10111 helpline. “This is to ensure that when people call the police, their calls are answered and their emergencies are attended to,” said Ramaphosa. Over the course of three years, millions of calls to the police emergency number, 10111, were dropped. Worse, 10111 staffing is only at around 40%. – Tamsin Metelerkamp


Tamsin MetelerkampThe President’s comments on education come just days after the release of the 2023 Reading Panel Background Report, which estimated that 82% of Grade 4s in South Africa are unable to read for meaning in any language. – Tamsin Metelerkamp


The President says: “This year, the National Skills Fund will provide R800 million to develop skills in the digital and technology sector through an innovative model that links payment for training to employment outcomes” – are we talking about the same entity that R5billion went missing from? – Sune Payne


Tamsin MetelerkampCannabis production will unlock enormous economic energy in rural areas, especially in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Mpumalanga, says Ramaphosa. – Tamsin Metelerkamp


The President is most animated when he speaks about plans to grow the hemp and cannabis industries. – Ferial Haffajee



WATCH: South Africa’s energy crisis not quite a National State of Disaster, say panellists

The pandemic provided a good guide of how a National State of Disaster can be implemented as South Africa seeks solutions to ongoing and intensified national rolling blackouts. However, panellists warn that the energy crisis might not be a National State of Disaster but rather a problem that requires existing solutions to be implemented.


In a snap poll last week, Daily Maverick readers voted overwhelmingly against a National State of Disaster.


Daily Maverick logo By Pierre de Vos

The mooted National State of Disaster – ANC desperation or cynical public relations exercise?

While there are good reasons to be sceptical about this proposal, this is not primarily because there is any chance that the government will use its disaster management powers to ban Woolies chicken or the sale of alcohol, or to impose other restrictions of the kind imposed during the Covid-19 crisis (as some commentators have suggested), but rather because a declaration of a State of Disaster will largely be meaningless as it will not grant the government the kind of additional powers that would allow it to circumvent their existing legal obligations. 

national state of disaster ends ramaphosa cabinet
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on the end of the National State of Disaster that had been declared on 15 March 2022 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: GCIS / Kopano Tlape)

The President announces electricity car production. I’d love one but what will it run 🏃🏽‍♀️ on? – Ferial Haffajee


The Minister of Electricity in the Presidency will deal with the power crisis. The Public Enterprises Minister will continue to oversee Eskom and the creation of the SOC holding company.

Comment: It looks like Gwede Mantashe has lost control of Eskom. – Ferial Haffajee


“I will appoint a Minister of Electricity in the Presidency to assume full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the electricity crisis response” – Ramaphosa


Tamsin Metelerkamp“In a time of crisis, we need a single point of command” – Ramaphosa announces that National Disaster Management Centre has classified the energy crisis as a disaster. – Tamsin Metelerkamp


Ramaphosa says that there is a programme for rolling out roof top solar in homes, which will also feature a tax incentive scheme. The details of this scheme is set to be announced in the February budget. – Ray Mahlaka


Ramaphosa says in July last year, he pushed through energy reforms that will free between 4,000 and 6,000 mega watts of energy from independent power producers. He says the implantation of this plan is ongoing. – Ray Mahlaka



Tamsin Metelerkamp Ramaphosa’s statement that South Africa will rise to meet challenges together is in sharp contrast to the divisive disruptions at the joint sitting – Tamsin Metelerkamp


Daily Maverick logo We are concentrating on those issues that concern South Africans the most: load shedding, unemployment, poverty and the cost of living, crime and corruption. There are no easy solutions to these problems, yet we have the strength to overcome, says Ramaphosa.


Daily Maverick logo “Difficulties we have by the tonne,” says Ramaphosa as he starts his address.


45 minute delay. The EFF’s disruptions are getting shorter but sharper. – Ferial Haffajee


In July 2019, the EFF stormed the podium as Minister Pravin Gordhan was speaking. They got a slap on the wrist. – Ferial Haffajee


Tamsin Metelerkamp 45 minutes in, President Cyril Ramaphosa begins his address once more – Tamsin Metelerkamp


This is fast becoming the defining moment of Sona2023, likely to overshadow what is to come. – Janet Heard


DA leader John Steenhuisen makes a good point: the ease with which the Speaker called in security forces is not a good precedent. Parliamentary security were fast as Queenin’s video shows. – Ferial Haffajee



When do we call out fascist behaviour what it is? Or do we mask it in the language of disruption? – Ferial Haffajee


Marianne Merten Armed bullet proofed tactical response members have been authorised by the Speaker. Never before in democratic South Africa. – Marianne Merten


Marianne Merten Unprecedented! Security services have been called to the floor if the House to intervene. – Marianne Merten


President Cyril Ramaphosa has gotten up and sat down four times in 27 minutes but he hasn’t proceeded more than one line of his address. – Ferial Haffajee


Queenin MasuabiThe president has really mastered the art of looking unbothered, even when opposition parties try to push him over the edge. – Queenin Masuabi


Tamsin Metelerkamp President Cyril Ramaphosa stands to begin his address for the third time. Mapisa-Nqakula says that South Africans want to hear the address. Disruptions are “disrespectful” to them. – Tamsin Metelerkamp


Velani Ludidi Parliamentary protection services are called by the Speaker to remove ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula. Zungula had earlier told Daily Maverick that he has no hope in President Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the county out of the challenges. – Velani Ludidi


Marianne Merten ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula is the first MP to be ordered out of the House. – Marianne Merten


Tamsin Metelerkamp National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says that it is in the joint sitting’s best interests to hear the President’s address – Tamsin Metelerkamp


Marianne Merten Because the President has taken Parliament to court (over the Phala Phala Section 89 inquiry independent panel report recommending an impeachment inquiry) he can’t address MPs, says Malema. “How can he (the President) convene the people he has taken to court?” Malema asks. But the Speaker says: “There is nothing stopping the President from addressing this House.” – Marianne Merten


The EFF’s strategy is confused: striking coalition agreements to share power with the ANC in Joburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. But disrupting the #SONA2023 🤷🏽‍♀️ – Ferial Haffajee


Marianne Merten National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula repeats the rules – if you’re not recognised to speak, you can’t, and if you don’t comply, you’ll be asked to leave the House. This is presumably to preempt the much talked about EFF disruption by point of order. – Marianne Merten


President Cyril Ramaphosa and Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has arrived on the podium. The national anthem is played as the 21-gun salute is fired.


The military band awaits the arrival of President Cyril Ramaphosa for proceedings to start.

(Photo: Sune Payne)

The DA is attending the address dressed in all black to symbolise the sombre mood of the country.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the Democratic Alliance, center right, ahead of the state of the nation ceremony at City Hall in Cape Town. (Photo: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The president’s address is preceded by a full ceremony including a flame guard, a 21-gun salute, an aircraft flypast, the lining of the route, the ceremonial guard, the salute of the step guard, the singing of the national anthem, the full military band and the ceremonial processions of the provincial speakers, premiers, the judiciary, the deputy president and the president.


Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu arrives at Cape Town City Hall and comments on the Tourism Portfolio Committee chairperson Tandi Mahambehlala’s behaviour during the marathon committee meeting on Tuesday where the committee resolved the R1-b Tottenham Hotspur’s deal must be cancelled. Minister Sisulu says the Chairperson was “way out of line” and that she has reported this matter to the Speaker. – Victoria O’Regan





Several MPs and Ministers have just rushed into the City Hall, not stopping for interviews or pictures, including Defence Minister Thandi Modise and Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi – Suné Payne


One of the posters for a Sona protest by #UniteBehind. The civic coalition wants an end to the energy crisis. Several hundreds of people have gathered at Hanover Street in Cape Town to protest various issues including electricity, gender based violence, etc. – Suné Payne

(Photo: Suné Payne)

Velani Ludidi Cope leader Mosioua Lekota says if he were the president he’d have parliament move to Bloemfontein so that the money spent to travel back and forth to Cape Town could be spent on the education of children. – Velani Ludidi


By Suné Payne

The young poet chosen to sing the President’s praises

‘Even my mother cried when she heard I was selected to be the praise singer for the President,’ said Musawenkosi Nqobile Duma, who will take part in the prelude to the State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening.

sona imbongi
Musawenknosi Nqobile Duma, a 28-year-old poet from Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, will be the praise singer at this year’s State of the Nation Address. (Photo: Suné Payne / Daily Maverick)

Ramaphosa has made many public statements about fighting corruption, about how he wants to resolve the power crisis, or fix the state

But if his actions were words, there would be only almost uninterrupted silence. So little of what he has promised before has actually happened. – Stephen Grootes

Read: A.D. 2023 – what to expect from another Sona from the man who could have been a contender


Zapiro Sona prep

Marianne Merten By Marianne Merten

A restive South Africa and a roiling ANC — can President Ramaphosa seize the moment?

Much rides on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2023 State of the Nation Address on Thursday, which opens the parliamentary calendar and kicks the political year into full swing. That much is riding on the address holds even more true given the 2024 elections, a seemingly intractable energy crisis, and political noise, also from within the governing ANC.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his address to parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, 26 April 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Siyabulela Duda / POOL)

Daily Maverick logo By Brij Maharaj

Here’s the Sona you want to hear (but don’t hold your breath)

In recent times, there have been invariable comparisons with our neighbour Zimbabwe, but we are not quite there yet. The delicate difference is that, in South Africa, we have an independent judiciary (notwithstanding Msholozi’s geriatric rantings) and a free press.

(President Cyril Ramaphosa at this year’s State of the Nation address. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Daily Maverick logo By Judith February

We don’t want death by detail, Mr President, but a short, sharp Sona setting the stage for bold action

In his State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa will speak to a country worn weary by his obsequious smile, his fealty to a corrupt ANC and his inability to govern with conviction.

ramaphosa sa mining
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on 7 February 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Daily Maverick logo By Mark Heywood

The other side of Sona – Suffering Nation, Seething Nation

When the Sona show is over, and our attention has moved on, ‘business as usual’ means the steady and inexorable whittling away of the dignity, opportunity and possibility from millions of people in South Africa.

Anxiety, depression and constantly feeling unsafe are some of the words that came up as immigrant children living in Johannesburg described their everyday life. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

Daily Maverick logo By Songezo Zibi

Sona 2023 — We need a crisis recovery plan, not business as usual

We are in a crisis. A crisis demands vision, fortitude, and capability. South Africa has all three — just not where it matters, and that is in a declining ANC that no longer knows how to govern.

A general view of City Hall during the preparations ahead of SONA 2023 on 2 February 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

Queenin Masuabi By Queenin Masuabi

‘Ramaphosa has taken us down the path of failure’ — opposition parties blast President ahead of State of the Nation Address

The Democratic Alliance and ActionSA have hosted their own Sona events which look at how the government should be dealing with the ongoing problems faced by South Africans. They also looked at the shortcomings of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

ramaphosa
South African Defence Force (SANDF) members parade during a dress rehearsal ahead of the State of the Nation Address on 8 February 2017 in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais)

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