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South Africans need tangible results

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These included electrifying 350000 homes, rebuilding townships and restoring services in rural and urban areas

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address. Picture: GCIS

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa’s second State of the Nation address (Sona) is done and dusted. The question now is: what do the next couple of months hold for South Africans?

In his maiden speech on May 24, 1994, first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela took the country into his confidence and informed South Africans of the ANC’s plans.

These included electrifying 350000 homes, rebuilding townships and restoring services in rural and urban areas.

At the time, Mandela also spoke of job creation, especially for the unemployed youth and, among other things, highlighted the need to offer free and compulsory education for pupils for a period of nine years, saying the government had to inculcate a culture of teaching and learning, as well as make it possible for this culture to thrive.

Similarly, 25 years into democracy, his successors have followed suit in outlining the same plans and modern-day achievements by the government.

Despite the country’s leaders using the Sona as a road map for the country and as a gauge towards the progress made thus far, the plans presented have, over time, become somewhat of an annual to-do list that is simply ticked off every February.

This has been seen in how the same plans, to some extent, have been fulfilled, while in other instances have fallen short in addressing pressing issues on the ground.

In his speech last year, Ramaphosa highlighted that almost a million students enrolled in higher education, up from just over 500000 in 1994.

Despite this, students have found it hard to access university spaces and can neither afford tertiary fees – resulting in a flurry of student protests.

The health sector and other state entities also find themselves battling throughout the year, and their operations are nowhere close to reflecting what is often outlined in the Sona.

If today’s problems resemble those of Mandela’s era, what then do we do?

How do we change the status quo and ensure that as a country we do not write out long, ambitious plans for ourselves, but rather focus on sharp, short, sustainable goals that we can achieve?

The truth of the matter is that when the pomp and ceremony fade many of the country’s citizens still need answers, and while they can’t be met immediately, they need to be met at some point.