Many sat in front of their televisions on 10 February 2022, waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA). As usual, SONA held many hopes for a better South Africa as many tuned in to hear how the government will take the country forward; how it will deal with the collapsing economy and many social issues.
The first thing that was clear, was that the SONA was orientated towards businesses. While the President acknowledged the increasing levels of inequality in South Africa, the dire poverty that many continue to live with, his solutions are to increase local production, and “create employment stimulus” amongst other things. But this is the same song he and his cabinet have been singing since 2019.
Instead of things changing for the better, they just get worse. The World Bank released a report on 9 March 2022, indicating that “South Africa remains the most unequal country in the world, with race playing a determining factor in a society, where 10% of the population owns more than 80% of the wealth.” This of course happens 30 years after democracy, where the power is in the hands of a black elite.
Many might wonder, why things are getting worse, and what was the point of fighting apartheid. The answer is that the people governing this country have no interest in eradicating poverty or in bridging the inequality gap. If anything, our president is the puppet of the white monopoly capital and ever since he came into power, he has made sure that economic power remains in their hands while the black working class remain at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. President Ramaphosa speaks about dealing with corrupt individuals and the state capture, but he has also been implicated in many corrupt activities.
The President is so out of touch with reality, he is unable to admit that he has failed his people, as the levels of unemployment continue to rise under his leadership. In his 2019 SONA he promised to create 275 000 jobs, and promised to create 2 million jobs for youth in the next decades. Now in 2022, he says “the government does not create jobs, the private sector does”. Yet, unemployment has increased from 36.6% to 46.6%, and many people were offloaded and retrenched by this same private sector ostensibly due to ‘Covid-19 constraints’. The R350 Social Relief and Distress Grant is clear not enough to sustain livelihoods because the cost of living is so high, but our President went on live TV to praise someone who started an ice cream business using their R350 grant, clearly pushing the narrative that people should use the R350 for long term sustainability, and starting businesses, etc. In reality, this R350 is not even enough to give families a loaf of bread for the whole month.
One might ask, what has President Ramaphosa done right in his term? Femicide and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) continue to rise. From the 2018 (when the Gender Summit took place) to July 2021, 11 315 women were raped, 15 692 women assaulted and 1204 almost killed. In the two months between July and September in 2021, 900 women, 350 children were killed. This is appalling and the police are not equipped to deal with these issues.
This article is an opinion piece submitted on 12 March 2022. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Karibu! Online or Khanya College. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.