Lockdown heroes, a political analyst and ordinary readers were asked what they would like to hear from the president’s speech on Thursday night.
Cape Town – Over the past year, South Africans faced unprecedented hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Poverty, unemployment and hunger reached epidemic proportions, forcing NGOs and community activists to step in and assist the poor for whom government assistance was either not enough or not forthcoming at all.
Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, IOL asked a few of these lockdown heroes, as well as a political analyst, political figures and ordinary readers what they would like to hear from the president’s speech on Thursday night.
Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said he hoped the president would indicate a clear plan of action for the government on addressing the challenges of health, hunger and unemployment.
He acknowledged the mammoth task Ramaphosa faces but stressed that there were interventions which were both practical and possible which could be implemented immediately.
Sooliman suggested providing a much-needed boost to public healthcare by creating jobs for unemployed medical professionals, employing more teachers and police officers and facilitating the establishment of community gardens at state schools.
The SONA should focus on two areas – namely domestic security threats due to Covid-19, poverty and corruption as well as the capabilities of the state to deal with the challenges it faces, Dr Ntsikelelo Breakfast, a political analyst based in KwaZulu-Natal, said.
Breakfast also called on the president to comment on the milestones during his tenure as the chairperson of the African Union, while expressing disappointment at the handling of various crisis on the continent.
Desmond D’Sa, the coordinator of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, called on Ramaphosa to ensure that government does not compound the poverty of ordinary citizens by increasing taxes.
“An honest warts and all assessment of the ANC government’s miserable failure running the country and what his executive plan is to clean up their act instead of insulting our intelligence with more syrupy promises of reform, that or admit they are not up to the job,” commented reader Jason Croxford on Facebook.
Another reader, Michelle Janecke, wants the president to explain what has happened to the R500 billion Covid-19 funds that have allegedly gone missing from government’s coffers and to detail what action is being taken to prosecute those responsible for looting the funds.
“I would like him to tell us that Ace has been fired and that the cabinet is being restructured to remove all Zuma followers,” said Paul Ramsden.
Enayet Mowzer wasn’t optimistic about the speech: “These Sona have become a joke. I m just glad that we saving some money because the event is only televised and not held with pomp.”
Another reader took aim at government’s ill-fated procurement of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. “Actually I’d like to ask him what have we done to deserve expired vaccine?” said DêReal Hlabirwa Reggy.