The president’s State of the Nation Address was a self-indulgent and delusional spectacle filled with empty promises and a complete disregard for the harsh realities of the nation. Instead of focusing on the pressing issues at hand, he chose to dwell on the past, conveniently ignoring the dire state of our present. This address was nothing more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, devoid of any meaningful solutions or plans for the future.

By Themba Khumalo

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address was a grandiose display of nostalgia and empty promises. He regaled us with tales of days long gone but conveniently forgot to address the current state of our nation. The speech seemed to have a cynical flair, leaving me sceptical about the future.

It’s almost amusing how he romanticised a time when South Africa finally crawled out of the dark abyss that was apartheid, conveniently ignoring the corruption, inequality, and economic downturn that plague us today. But hey, who needs progress when we can bask in the glory of past achievements?

The president aimlessly droned on at Cape Town City Hall to a room full of self-serving MPs, conveniently void of the EFF, which wisely boycotted the charade. In his ramblings, he spoke of some absurd notion of embracing acquaintances and strangers as if we should care about anyone other than ourselves.

With a nauseating display of faux optimism, he muttered something about our supposed power to shape the future through our votes, as if casting a ballot could actually make a difference. And in his delusion, he dared to suggest that we were depositing more than just a vote into those ballot boxes as if our dreams for this country mattered in the grand scheme of things.

Ramaphosa’s address was a masterclass in twisted irony, as he heaped praises on the very same government that single-handedly sabotaged public life. With a touch of dark humour, he glorified the ANC-in-government’s feeble attempts to resurrect institutions and functions that they themselves vandalised and left in ruins. It’s as if they were marvellously patting themselves on the back for their own destruction. A true masterpiece of creative cynicism.

Despite acknowledging some of the government’s successes, Ramaphosa’s praise was merely a desperate attempt to divert attention from his own lacklustre performance. His so-called “progressive” leadership is nothing more than an illusion, overshadowed by the glory of those who came before him. The dearth of substantial achievements under his administration only serves to expose the hollowness and incompetence of his policies.

In an unsurprising display of self-awareness, the president reluctantly admitted the devastating havoc caused by the so-called state capture, begrudgingly confessing that it possibly inflicted the greatest harm out of any other colossal debacle the nation had endured in the past three decades. For an astonishing ten years, those in positions of power are said to have shamelessly colluded with conniving individuals from the private sector to wrest control and reshape state-owned entities, law enforcement agencies, and numerous other supposedly public institutions. Shockingly enough, esteemed local as well as multinational corporations willingly lent a helping hand in facilitating these abominable deeds.

In what can only be seen as a feeble attempt to salvage some credibility, the government claims to have taken action against state capture. They boast of prosecuting a measly 200 individuals and seizing a minuscule R14 billion through the Asset Forfeiture Unit. As if that’s not enough, they have returned a laughable R8.6 billion to the state and recovered a pitiful R4.8 billion in taxes. Oh, and let’s not forget their genius idea of creating the Investigating Directorate, which is just a glorified version of the long-disgraced Scorpions. They have truly outdone themselves in their quest to fool the public with empty promises and hollow gestures.

The undeniable truth Ramaphosa is deliberately avoiding is that he, his government, and his party played a crucial role in enabling state capture. To disregard their involvement in this detrimental process would be a grave mistake. In his attempt to address the issue, Ramaphosa deceptively tries to distance himself from the situation, making it seem as if it happened in a parallel universe with completely unrelated actors. This dismissive approach only serves to conceal the truth and evade responsibility for their own actions.

Ramaphosa, with his perplexingly clueless expression and deceitfully smooth tone, dares to proclaim that efforts are being made to improve our ports and freight rail as if the woeful state of our logistics infrastructure is simply a product of unfortunate happenstance. But let’s be clear: the Transnet debacle is nothing short of a catastrophic failure engineered by the ANC, laying bare their utter incompetence and woeful lack of foresight.

And just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, let’s not overlook the absolute disaster that is the load-shedding debacle. Ramaphosa, the master of false promises, wants us to believe that there is some sort of well-thought-out plan in place. Apparently, we are supposed to find solace in these mystical private generation projects that are supposedly going to save us. Oh, and let’s not forget about the so-called advanced stage of electricity sector restructuring.

But who are they trying to fool? The imbeciles in power have been recklessly mismanaging energy planning and policy for years. They have expertly painted themselves into a hopeless corner with no escape route in sight. It truly is laughable how their sheer lack of intelligence and strategic thinking has resulted in this entirely avoidable mess.

Despite the supposed “dividend” from 1994, the government’s track record in social services, housing, healthcare, and education is not enough to make up for their overall ineptitude. The current administration should be held accountable for its mismanagement of the economy, failure to implement important reforms, and lacklustre progress in areas like education, health, and safety.

The president leads an orchestra of uninspiring individuals who lack any semblance of dynamism or quality – an insipid national executive filled with lacklustre ministers who lack enthusiasm and competence. This lacklustre troupe also happens to belong to a governing party that boasts such high levels of hubris and entitlement that it would make one’s head spin.

Oh, what a time to be alive under such extraordinary leadership!

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