The Sona spectacle would be sheer comedy if it wasn’t so vulgar and tragic

The Sona spectacle would be sheer comedy if it wasn’t so vulgar and tragic
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the 2024 State of the Nation Address at Cape Town City Hall on 8 February 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Why are politicians trying to gloss over the fact that they’ve done more harm than good in the past 30 years and have made this the most unequal country in the world, with millions of our poorest citizens living in abject poverty?

Dear DM168 readers,

During one of our newspaper diary discussions this week, we chatted about State of the Nation (Sona) stories that were being worked on for this issue and one of them was a fashion photo essay that would highlight the different outfits worn by dignitaries.

I mentioned that I wasn’t at all interested in who wore what at Sona, not just because I have the fashion sense of a 10-year-old tomboy, but because I find the Sona spectacle grotesque.

What exactly is the ANC celebrating? Why are politicians dressed to the nines?

Why are they trying to gloss over the fact that they’ve done more harm than good in the past 30 years and have made this the most unequal country in the world, with millions of our poorest citizens living in abject poverty while the politicians they vote for show off their gaudy, overpriced threads?

Sona is an obscene pantomime and, as I listened to President Cyril Ramaphosa, I realised that the only thing worth celebrating was his speech writers’ ability to make even the most marginal of gains in the past three decades seem significant.

“In 1993, 71% of South Africans lived in poverty.” Yes, we know the apartheid government didn’t give a damn about people of colour. Nothing new there. “In 2020, according to the World Bank, only 55% are living in poverty.”

Seriously? Over 27 years, the ANC ensured that only 16% of the population was lifted out of poverty? Is Ramaphosa joking? How is this being presented as something positive when we all know that the figure of 55% would be closer to 0% if it wasn’t for the billions of rands being stolen by corrupt ANC politicians and the mafioso businessmen connected to them?

At some point during his ridiculously flowery speech, I found myself wondering if Ramaphosa was doing some sort of TikTok dare. Is there a #HoodwinkChallenge, or something similar, where politicians worldwide try to stuff as many lies and empty promises into a speech as possible? Or is he doing a new stand-up routine for an ANC-funded B-grade comedy club where the comedians get paid in roubles?

“Blah blah high-speed rail network between Durban and Joburg” – ha ha ha! “Blah blah state healthcare is amazing, our people love it” – yoh, is this guy on magic mushrooms?! “Blah blah we’re recovering billions and billions from State Capture prosecutions” – nah man, he must be on acid.

I despise politics and I’ve never been interested in this beat for precisely this reason – it’s a parade of never-ending lies that has morphed into the kind of tasteless jokes that even the president of a country laughs at.

But lucky for you, dear reader, I am not writing any of the Sona stories in this issue. At Daily Maverick, we have experts such as parliamentary specialist Marianne Merten, who has sifted through that interminable speech to bring you the context to understand the key points a little better. Her insightful lead story is on pages 4 and 5, and we’ve catered for the fashionistas too with the aforementioned photo essay on Page 6.

If you think I’m being too cynical, please read our Mining Indaba coverage (pages 32, 34 and 37) in which various CEOs explain why South African government failures have made operating in the country increasingly difficult, and read Zukiswa Pikoli’s column (Page 22) about how political party leaders seem to be far removed from the 4.3 million young citizens who have registered to vote.

Then, just as you reach boiling point when you begin to appreciate that our government has no intention of acknowledging its catastrophic blunders over the past 30 years, calm your nerves by reading the story on Page 12 about Eastern Cape doctors on a mission to help children crippled by a debilitating disease to walk again.

And then read the story on Page 14 about Promise Mthembu, who is fighting for ­justice for women who were victims of forced sterilisation.

And, as your blood pressure decreases, turn to our stories about the exceptionally talented Grammy-winning Tyla (Page 11) and Bafana star Ronwen Williams (Page 51), who provided a much-needed boost for our politically mangled spirits this week.

As always, please don’t forget to send your thoughts about our stories or any other feedback to [email protected] for publication on our readers’ page.

Yours in defence of the truth that constantly evades politicians,


This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Even people in parliament laughed at the drivel from Cyril

  • Deon Schoeman says:

    The bigger problem is that 50% of voters believe this nonsense and will vote for this bunch again …..therein is the REAL problem if SA !!! They deserve what they have …..

    • Ol Die says:

      Why are the Americans voting for Trump again? Same thing – look at the alternatives! It is not the people to blame but the parties not being able to come up with with obvious alternatives.

  • Papa Red says:

    Well said!

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    Brilliant little synopsis Sukasha! I felt obligated to watch the SONA. I’ve got Solar (something which Tintswalo and her family probably don’t have – but which the ANC would probably seek to take credit for, if they did) so I caught the entire thing uninterrupted including the interviews afterwards!
    The interviews with our Minister of Health & Minister in the Presidency was the ‘real stuff’.
    Joe equating the funding of NHI to a group of Stokvel members buying a fridge and Ntshaveni saying that Black Diamonds must thank the ANC for the BMW’s and Audi’s they drive (so, in other words, their success had nothing to do with their own hard work and talent)
    The way I assess things is to try look at where the World is going, the pace it is moving at and then whether ‘our Kids’ are going to be ‘future fit’ for the demands of that World.
    In that light and to continue with the Tintswalo, fairy tale, imaginary charachter theme – if we choose to continue with the current administration fed by the same pipeline of embarrassingly poor leaders the ANC continues to birth – my best advice to Tintswalo would be to practice safe sex

    • Jay Vyas says:

      Definitely those Black Diamonds do owe, and must thank the ANC for those BMWs and AUDIs. After all, the ANC Engineered the BBBEE Cadre, tender-preuners, and preferred supplier credentials via the Luthlooting House & Chancellor House conveyor belts…. This evil relationships also ensures that the same Black Diamonds channel a percentage of their ill gotten gains back to the ANC!

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Vulgar, tragic, banal, devoid of integrity, an exhibition of pornographic opulence in the face of dire poverty equal to anywhere in Sudan or Gaza, a cheap cheat pantomime, circus of the indulged is what CR made of his SONA even without the clowning of BANNED (would you believe it 30 years it democracy) and manic EFF. SONA demonstrated how shambolic SA has become for everybody but especially for the those looking hardest for a better life. Sod off CR!

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:


    • Michelle du Plessis says:

      I couldn’t have put it any better Dennis. I physically cannot force myself to watch the “PRESIDENT” waxing lyrically about everything except the reality of South Africa. Clearly he and his merry band DO NOT LIVE IN THE REAL SOUTH AFRICA. I am so disgusted by their greedy criminal theft of life from their people, the poorest of the poor, and all this for money and power. WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH MR PRESIDENT???

  • Lynne Bird says:

    My suggestion, even before I saw some of the bizarre creations, was that next year the Parliamentary “ladies” should all wear a simple black dress and donate the EXACT AMOUNT they would have spent on an outfit (probably never worn again), their hair and nails, to funding sanitary protection for girls, building a PROPER toilet in a rural school, feeding children in a rural school through the school holidays….. The “do good” list is endless…..

  • Telana Magill says:

    Thank you for saying like it is.

  • Stephanie Olivier says:

    I weep for our land

  • Rae Earl says:

    Your comments here, Sukasha, should be mandatory reading for the entire population. I’ve posted this quote by Ayn Rand many times and it fits in perfectly with your analysis of the ANC and the Sona spectacle. The quote:

    ” When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed”.
    Ayn Rand

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Looking at the photograph there were a few spare seats near the front.

  • Frank Fettig says:

    The struggle against apartheid was for nothing. For most of “our people” not much has changed. Except now they’re being robbed and suppressed by their own.

  • William Dryden says:

    Yep, R6.5mil spent on a bunch of clowns headed by the ring master himself Ramaphosa, if he were white, he would be blushing like a red robot at night. Sad little man.

  • Joy Watson says:

    This editorial letter made me laugh – but tragically, it’s on point.

  • Roger Symes says:

    Thank you so much for such an incisive insert, Sukasha. I had such high hopes for RSA when Cyril took over the mess left by JZ but, alas, he has taken our beloved RSA even deeper into the mire. Where to now? We can only hope that the upcoming election produces an alarming swing to effective & meaningful leadership where our politicians will be seen to be zealously carrying out their duties through service.
    Roll on the elections & keep praying everybody!

  • Interested Observer says:

    I despair. Lies, lies and damned statistics. A ten year old can see that the last decade was shocking. SA left behind by all other nations not involved in war. Pity our citizens.

  • Jairo Arrow says:

    Thanks for seeing through this grotesque annual show.

  • Vas K says:

    The 2024 SONA is not just a pathetic performance by the Hollow Man, it is a serious insult and a spit in the face to each citizen and the nation as a whole. I don’t believe that anyone can be so clueless, so the contempt for the country must be intentional. Shame on you Mr. president.

  • James Baxter says:

    But they keep getting elected. Maybe we deserve what we get from politicians. I feel as if our politicians are Satanist and even Satan will not do what our political class has done to SA. We should just elect Satan because what ANC has done to black people is beyond evil.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    So if 71% of South Africans lived in poverty in 1993, that’s roughly 29 million people. That’s disgusting. Unconscionable. Criminal. Today it’s 55%. Except our population has grown by roughly 50%, so roughly 34 million people live in poverty today. Ramaphosa is scum, along with every member of his elite who hate ordinary South Africans through their actions, not lies.

  • nanoose101 says:

    very funny, who is he kidding this so called PRESIDENT, INCOMPETENCE AND LIARS IS THEIR FIRST NAME!! i WANT THE GOOD OLD sOUTH aFRICA BACK, where everything functioned and the Presidents did not STEAL ALL OUR HARD EARNED MONEY, ..ANC MUST GO, Vote the RIGHT PEOPLE!!!

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