Amid all the hot air, here are some cold truths

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Amid all the hot air, here are some cold truths

We’ll start believing Ramaphosa again when he makes a promise he keeps – even if it’s just to tie his shoelaces

Columnist

This was written yesterday. Right now I don’t know whether Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address was admirable, dully pragmatic, or a horrible misfire. Which, I’m guessing, means I know about as much as you do today.

That’s the thing about Sona these days. Back in the Mandela era, and perhaps for some of Mbeki’s reign, Sona felt like a faintly gloomy, low-budget version of Oprah’s Favourite Things. Everyone got something, even if it was just a humble request to be patient. When parliament stood to applaud the president, there was a sense that at least some of the projects and policies outlined in the speech might be implemented at some point in the next decade, by people who would not deliberately try to hack the country into pieces to sell for personal gain.

Now, however, we’re prematurely older and bitterly wiser. In the last 15 years, the words read from the podium have remained epic and even poetic – African renaissance! Radical Economic Transformation! New Dawn! – but every year they have been made to look ever more preposterous by the crumbling society beyond the parliamentary bubble. The 40,000 South Africans who might have heard last year’s Sona were not listening this year: 20,000 have emigrated since then; 20,000 have been murdered. Of the 20 million citizens aged 15 to 34 who did listen or watch the speech, eight million are not employed, in school or any form of training...

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