South Africa

SONA 2024 DEBATE ANALYSIS

Ramaphosa delivers electioneering ‘klap’ for opposition, talks up SA’s progress with Tintswalos in the House

Ramaphosa delivers electioneering ‘klap’ for opposition, talks up SA’s progress with Tintswalos in the House
President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2024 Presidential Response to the Sona Debate at Cape Town City Hall on 15 February 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams)

President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t announce an election date, but delivered what was in effect a second State of the Nation Address — with a sharp klap for those dismissing his allegory of ‘democracy’s child’ Tintswalo, the beneficiary of democratic gains under 30 years of ANC governance.

“[Critics] are prepared to dismiss all of this progress because it does not serve their narrative of a failed nation, it does not serve their political aspirations, it does not serve their narrow interests,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a veiled reference to the DA in particular, and opposition political parties in general, in his reply to an acerbic State of the Nation Address (Sona) debate.

“They do not want a national democratic society. They want to preserve racial privilege and to reverse the fundamental social and economic transformation that is taking place in our country.”

Thursday’s dig at the opposition benches as racist, elitist and naysayers falls in line with the tone the governing ANC set at its January 8 Statement rally. Then Ramaphosa, as party boss, talked of the onslaught by “anti-transformation forces” against the ANC with the aim “to deprive the ANC of the ability to use state power to effect change”.

It’s classic ANC tactics to pull into the laager for a fight against an enemy — and it has helped the governing party to mobilise significant support. It’s a crucial approach ahead of the upcoming elections, in which pundits predict the ANC may lose its outright majority.

The increasing use of such tactics can be expected on the campaign trail as the elections draw closer. The date of the polls is not yet known, but may be announced next Wednesday after a meeting between Ramaphosa, the Electoral Commission of South Africa and premiers. Wednesday is the second-last day that the election date can be announced, after the Presidency said on 7 February it would be announced within 15 days.

Election klap delivered, Ramaphosa, as commander-in-chief, missed a beat to honour the two SANDF soldiers killed and the three others wounded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday. 

We dip our heads for those who are injured and those who may well have fallen,” said the President, going off script as he dismissed criticism of the SANDF deployment, which is part of the Southern African Development Community mission.

Neither did Ramaphosa use his Sona debate reply, which was broadcast live, to pay tribute to the Oryx helicopter pilot, who, despite a shot-off finger, managed to safely land his chopper. The helicopter was on a medical evacuation near Goma in the DRC earlier in February.

Instead, the President seemed regretful about the acerbic Sona debate, which highlighted divisions across the political landscape (read here and here).

Those sharp divisions in the House were also reflected in how South Africa’s past, present and future were viewed. 

We cannot forget the past. Even if we wanted to, the past we have been through as a nation has left deep scars in many of our people, and those scars are not going to be washed away or wished away,” the President said, going off script from his official written speech.

He used his one-hour, 10-minute reply to highlight South Africa’s development and transition under successive ANC governments since 1994, as he had in his 8 February Sona.

“It is not a Ramaphosa legacy; it is an ANC-led government legacy. I never want it said this is a Cyril Ramaphosa legacy; it is our people’s legacy,” Ramaphosa humble-bragged to applause from the ANC benches.

On Thursday, dozens of real-life Tintswalos — Tintswalo was the name Ramaphosa gave to an allegorical “child of democracy” in his Sona — sat in the public gallery. Representing engineers, pilots, police, doctors, naval captains and other professionals, Ramaphosa called them the “young South Africans who are proud to be part of the generation of Tintswalo”.

They were proof, he said, of improvement and fundamental change brought by the ANC, including the 4.7 million houses built, school nutrition, free healthcare and education, and social grants. 

Away from the noise and the spectacle, our country is being steadily and fundamentally transformed for the better. As we gather here, as we debate and differ and prepare for the election campaign trail, a quiet revolution is taking place,” the President said.

That, he said, included more than R1.5-trillion raised in investment pledges, several hundred thousand job opportunities created for young people through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, infrastructure spending to rebuild rural roads and bridges, reestablishing the institutions needed to fight crime and corruption independently, and with integrity, and investment in solar energy, including R70-billion in the Northern Cape, as part of the overall plan to beat rolling blackouts.

He again hinted that the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant may become the “foundation for a more permanent income support for the unemployed”.

Despite the electioneering klap for the opposition, Ramaphosa hammered home cooperation and working together.

“Some here only spoke of the positive. I have taken care to speak of our shortcomings and challenges, but I have also said we must come together.

“We must confront our apartheid past, which remains visible as we travel from suburbs to townships, from rich farmlands to poor villages.”  

On Wednesday, 21 February, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has the unenviable task of delivering what could be a harsh reality check when he tables the 2024 Budget in Parliament. DM

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  • Colin Braude says:

    I am starting to miss JZ783.
    Yes, Ramaphosa is more suave, but is a president that giggles really worse than one who tries to out-lie Donald Trump and is equally racecardist?

    Compared with JZ783, unemployment, crime and loadshedding are up while GDP and business confidence are down. While the Guptas were crooks, unlike Minister of Bailouts Gordhan, they could at least run businesses profitably.

    As for foreign policy, either the media do not understand or are too frightened to report that the bipartisan [supported by Dems and GOP] James-Moskovitz “U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act” requires “a full review of the bilateral relationship of the United States and South Africa, given South Africa’s recent positioning and coordination with America’s adversaries”. It is hard to see how SA will not be removed from the list of AGOA beneficiaries. AGOA — the African Growth and Opportunities Act gives approved democratic countries in Africa (currently including SA) preferential trade treatment, preferences that we are likely to loose, costing adding thousands of retrenchments to the existing unemployment catastrophe.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    “They do not want a national democratic society. They want to preserve racial privilege and to reverse the fundamental social and economic transformation that is taking place in our country.”

    No, Cyril, what they want is a COUNTRY managed the way they manage the PROVINCE and CITY they control so well, under awful conditions caused by your corrupt and incompetent party!

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Yes Mr. President. Keep believing that we are a successful country, but you can’t fool all of the people – Tintswalo or otherwise – all of the time. It’s time for you to get a warm lap across the head, and remove yourself and your fellow gangsters from all public offices.

  • Brendan Temple says:

    I wish Alan Paton were alive to write the second version of “Cry the Beloved Country 2.0. It would be interesting to see what that book would contain about the shameless pillaging of this beautiful country!

  • Johan Buys says:

    There are a large number of 30y old South Africans that could not be in the gallery with Tintswalo because they emigrated.

  • Wendy Wilson says:

    As far as I can see, most of the Tintswalo’s had family or friends in power. Most of the others were left behind

  • Con Tester says:

    Ramaposeur’s “Tintswalo” stunt in parliament would fool only the basest of starry-eyed suckers. Notwithstanding his haughty, grin-painted display of noble victory, 30-odd cherry-picked successful youngsters do not represent upwards of 5-million of their neglected fellows. Only a clueless twit would think this was a convincing refutation of his detractors’ main criticisms about the SONA yarn he so smugly spun. It was a piece of hollow theatre to feed the gullible. It most certainly wasn’t any sort of klap, except perhaps as a backfire.

    The more this man speaks his transparent shams, the more of a shifty conman polyptician he reveals himself to be. His currency is charm and affability, cultivated to lull people into a sense that all’s well when demonstrably it isn’t. Do not be taken in by this charlatan who took us from Ramaphoria to Ramageddon in less than five years.

  • tom cobley says:

    Should have had the real Tinswayos in parliament but would need a bigger building

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Mr President, it’s not about just you, it’s whom you appoint as Ministers and advisors, bad, corrupt, incompetent and geriatric in many instances.

  • Rae Earl says:

    The “rich farmlands” you denigrate Mr. President, are what keeps this country fed despite murderous attacks on the farmers themselves. The “poor villages” remain poor because the ANC has plundered every SOE and given billions to a family from India instead of using the money to support the poor in those villages. Your ANC has laid waste to our water system countrywide while our once superb rail and port systems have been dismantled and destroyed by useless cadres appointed by your party to run them . Thre are millions of ‘Tintswalos’ in rural areas who go to bed hungry, or worse, die of starvation. What is the ANC doing for the Mr. President?

  • D Rod says:

    Ramphosa and his clowns remind me of attitude of a pet shop salesman in classic Monthy Pyhton “dead parrot” sketch. They are defending, at any cost, the state of society we are in. Pathetic. S

  • Common Sense Is not common says:

    What I don’t understand is how opposition parties are not showcasing the ANC’s corruption as the highlight of their election campaigns. Imagine a campaign that showed what else could have been done with the R5trillion that has disappeared over the past few years? 1000s of schools? 1000s of houses? 1000s of hospitals? Where is the outrage and why do we as a society brush this under the carpet? It is disgraceful and the opposition should be screaming about it from the rooftops.

    • Paul Stnley says:

      I could not agree more, what we are missing here is strong opposition leadership, someone with spine to stand up and rise against what is happening to our country, not the same old hollow ‘we can do better, we have shown that’, get off your butts and get people active, marching, protesting (in peace), boycotting. But then again, we as South Africans are far too complacent, too scared to rock the boat, unable to stand together, and quite frankly too worried about our own little bubbles to look at the bigger picture. This is not about individuals, this is about our country, that is being pillaged and raped by a connect few, and nothing is being done about it.
      Will someone please stand up!!!!

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    Fear not the ANC but the ANC voter who quite frankly doesnt know any better !!

    Vote DA

    • Sliver Fox says:

      Sadly, they are still broken and hurt by past injustices and for that reason will continue to vote along racial lines despite the obvious suffering the ANC is causing. The ANC knows this and that is why they will use every opportunity to remind voters of apartheid’s crimes, and sow racial division to the best of their ability. That was also the Bell Potinger strategy. The ANC has been in power now for an entire generation and still voters don’t see them for what they are.

  • Peter Merrington says:

    A smoke screen. Is the smoke incense, sweet fragrance? He wants it to be so. Is it acrid, aggressive, choking? That too. Is it a fog, a mist, a vain shadow? Skadu means shadow and it also sounds like skade or damage. The damage began, Ramaphosa, at the outset of the ANC’s three decades (massive arms-deal theft). Of course there’s equity, of course there’s a just constitution and a lot of good things done for the poor. But given what might have been without incompetence and theft (state capture, no less – conceivably high treason committed by ANC leadership), what a pity.

  • Dave Barnes says:

    How can he expect us to accept these distortions. Apart from the growth under Mandela and Mbeki, it is a dismal story of decline. Granted, he inherited a huge mess from Zuma, but he himself has contributed so very little.

    • Richard Baker says:

      He’s not talking to the “us” in your first sentence Dave.
      More concerning is that those he is really addressing still believe what he and the ANC say.
      Combined with the pathetic efforts by the opposition parties and attempted groupings-this broken train is heading for the buffers. Very difficult times ahead!

  • Penny Philip says:

    When all else fails, draw the racial card. Contrary to CR’s view, most whites couldn’t care less who is in power if the country is run properly. Load shedding, corruption & mismanagement in all municipalities is not a figment of our imagination.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    No Mr President – you are wrong ….again! We don’t want to preserve racial privilege neither do we want to reverse social or economic transformation taking place in our country. What we do want is a stop to blatant theft, employment of unqualified cadres who continue to mess up what we gladly and hopefully passed on to the ANC in 1994 (including voting for your abysmal party). Instead of building on such a legacy, you and your corrupt and incompetent comrades have stolen the country blind, failed to maintain state owned enterprises that were the envy of the entire continent, failed to build new universities and failed every person who wished you and your cronies’ success. We praised you for initiating the Zondo commission but clearly implementing the recommendations and actually doing something about putting the crooks in jail is something that you don’t have the guts to do. We have had enough bullshit and no amount of playing the race card can disguise the fact that your party has failed the country and that you have led by inept example.

  • Grant S says:

    The ANC’s ability to bury their heads in the sand whilst lying to the country about the state of nearly everything is beyond belief.
    It’s worth considering that they themselves don’t believe their story to be mythical as the senior ANC folks are all financially elite, their bank balances a reflection of their wealth creation/country devastation practises. I deliberately don’t say policies as official ANC policy is actually pretty damn good. Just a shame the implementation has been next to non-existent.
    You know political parties have little to offer when their primary go to message is to attack governance of the best run province in the country, a record kept year after year. At least the DA doesn’t try to project itself as perfect, acknowledging there’s a mountain to climb, a task made all that much harder carrying the country on its back. I know people will say ‘WTF’, but identify the province that most people are moving to within South Africa, Western Cape. Because even if the movers aren’t voting DA, they know where the opportunity to progress sits. More jobs created in the WC than the rest of SA combined, with 7.2 million people creating more opportunity than provinces containing approximately 54 million other souls. The anger and vitriol spat at the WC government by other is just bitterness at seeing what they themselves can’t deliver. Not perfect, sometimes outright poor, but by far the best of what we have to choose from.

  • Phillip O'connor says:

    Desperation calls for desperate statements. Gullible South Africans will believe what he is saying. He has shown himself to be ineffective, always trying to pass the blame to someone else. No significant strides have been made, if anything your Government has destroyed most if not all the SOE’s, nepotism and greed feeds those who serve with you. You will do well, when you announce you will step down as President. One thing you can however do, before you go, have the Gupta cronies, returned to SA to face the music………………… Oops my bad, not going to happen, too many in your ANC party implicated.

  • Marcus Struik says:

    Every fool is happy within his/her own world…

  • Sliver Fox says:

    The DA is the only party brave enough to call a spade a spade. And the ANC’s best response to them is racist rhetoric. Really?

  • Nick Robert says:

    I think we are all missing a trick and allowing white noise to cloud the actual problem. CR knows that the ANC led government has been diabolical, but needs to distract the discourse to something else (Tintswalo comes to mind) so we end up talking about that instead of the mismanagement and pillaging

  • Josie Rowe-Setz says:

    Test

  • Josie Rowe-Setz says:

    Some issue with comments? Doesnt offerlog in option unless i post something first. Ive been posting “test” a lot just to get in. IT alert?

  • Rob vZ says:

    South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world. Let that sink in. And the government has the audacity to claim success. In any other democracy they would wiped out at the polls, but alas…

  • Johan Buys says:

    If we had achieved real GDP growth per capita of even 3% South Africa would be a happier and more just society and we could afford to consider expanded upliftment programs.

    Instead we have in 10y doubled debt:GDP because we mis-spend and our economy is shrinking while our population increases.

  • goodallr41 says:

    It is obvious that if the potentially rich South Africa is to progress, the corrupt, greedy and incompetent ANC must be voted out.

  • Jonathan Diederiks says:

    Just because the ANC and CR have become so adept at ignoring reality…doesn’t make it any less true! over 7700 murders in the last 3 months alone, but the Gvt will ignore all these signs of the times, and cooo softly to each other in their little Tintswalo bubble.

  • Louise Roderick says:

    Probably the totally wrong forum but could someone explain how Cyril got to be so wealthy while so many of his comrades were battling to survive in prison. And, if my memory serves me correctly way back then people were saying that Mandela was “grooming” Cyril to take over from him. Why did that not happen? Is it because Mandela actually saw what type of person Cyril was/is?
    And just my observation. Much has been said about apartheid oppression and how badly people of colour were treated – yes, that is fact but…how many members if the population of SA actually realise how badly they are oppressed today, right now, by the very people they believed were the liberators?
    Forget dignity and so on, the fact that so many people are reliant on grants to survive means that they have no dignity and are completely oppressed by the government threatening this meager form of support if they do not support the ANC. The R350 grant that Cyril touts as a lifesaver is just another way in which people are stripped of their dignity and their reliance on that grant is another way in which the ANC is oppressing the poor majority. The high rate of unemployment that means that young (and old) are unable to achieve dignity by working and providing for their families. Yet another form of oppression.
    The fact that Cyril uses one of the most condescending expressions “our people” to my mind lumps these people in a category along with domesticated animals. My dog, my cat, my cattle, my pigs. They are systematically being reduced to mere voting fodder. Oppression perhaps?
    Who in this country is really free,unless you are one of the elite?
    And far from all whites being beneficiaries of the apartheid regime, there are many of us who grew up not so privileged, who were unable to attend the better schools, who could not afford tertiary education and who had to find jobs as soon as they kept school to assist in keeping the households together. Life may not have been as bad for us as it was for our black compatriots but it certainly wasn’t the bed of roses politicians would have you believe it was.
    I am tired of lies and obfuscation. I am tired of the continual racism in the ANC. I am tired of apartheid being rammed down my throat. I am tired of getting poorer and poorer every day because of spiraling costs and myriad taxes. I am tired of locking myself away every night in case I get attacked.
    It is way past time for a change to a rational government.
    No one should forget SA’s past but for Pete’s sake let’s acknowledge it, learn from it and focus on creating a unified future for all.
    Us time for a change

  • Carlito Brigante III says:

    Another repulsive display of gaslighting from Cyril. How anyone could vote for the ANC is entirely beyond me. Shameless, delusional, predatory and incompetent. In any other country, with their useless track record, they’d be voted out in an instant, but in the reality distortion field that is SA politics, the masses have returned them to power over and over again. Is it sinking yet I wonder?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    “They do not want a national democratic society. They want to preserve racial privilege and to reverse the fundamental social and economic transformation that is taking place in our country.”

    Mr Ramaphosa, it saddens me, and diminishes greatly your stature as a person in my eyes, that you can lie outright as you do above solely in your own interest and without any care for the wellbeing of us, your people.

    You know as well as we do here how bad the ANC is, and yet you continue with these lies to lead us, your people, down into your dark ANC tunnel of destruction.

    I don’t understand how. I just don’t understand.

  • Graham Howard says:

    Never before in my life have I heard a speech so devoid of the truth. And then to try and use a harmless, helpless young girl analogy to bring substance to your lies is almost human abuse. CR you can’t even count ships, as Durbanites we can’t remember the last time there were only 15 ships standing outside Durban harbor.
    The pain and suffering you and your gangsters have brought to the young generation of this great country is and will be felt for many generations to come. The scars of apartheid have been replaced by the scars of an oligarch class of self-enriching communist ideologists who care nothing for the Tintswalos of this country. And even less for the white South Africans who weren’t mentioned once in your pathetic speech. Cry the beloved country.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Theatrics and playing the race card might make you feel better among the sycophants, Cyril, but respect is a lot harder to earn. You have no reason at all to brag, and that’s the truth, as you’ve achieved very little in your term. Another 5 years of you and the ANC will take us way beyond the brink, past the point of no return.

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