SONA Analysis: President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Tight-Rope Walk writes Vanessa Banton

Thursday night marked Cyril Ramaphosa’s fifth State of the Nation Address, but his first since Covid-19 gripped the country and the rest of the world.

It resulted in a much-muted affair, with only a handful of mask-wearing MPs in Parliament, while the president made his address which had a strong focus on economic recovery and business, with very few details on the vaccine rollout, which is probably what most citizens wanted to hear.

25 May marks two years since Ramaphosa was officially inaugurated as the country’s president after holding down the fort following Jacob Zuma’s resignation on 14 February 2018.

His ascendence to the position of president of the ANC was never going to be an easy one. The battle at Nasrec was a bruising one, and his victory was a result of a very thin margin between himself and his opponent Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Besides fighting to hold his party, fraught with factions, together, Ramaphosa had to face a new enemy to his presidency when just 10 months after his inauguration, the pandemic hit, bringing with it further challenges to a government already in a precarious position.

For our pandemic president, it has been a tough run and, looking at him in Parliament on Thursday, the last few months appear to be taking their toll.
In this week’s Friday Briefing, News24’s associate editor Pieter du Toit analyses SONA and writes that while the President is aware of what he has to do to save the country’s economy, his task is impossible and unenviable while political editor Qaanitah Hunter is of the view that the country does not need yet another corruption unit.

Mistra’s director of research, Professor Susan Booysen writes that the ANC may remain dominant at the polls, but Ramaphosa’s presidency has been fragile and permeable. Analyst Aubrey Matshiqi holds a similar view, arguing that because of the slim margin of his Nasrec win, Ramaphosa cannot make decisions that he would like, and perhaps that we need as a country. Finally, the University of Pretoria’s Tinyinko Maluleke breaks down four areas where mistakes have been made by the Ramaphosa administration during the pandemic.

Vanessa Banton
News24 Opinions Editor.

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