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THE BIG STORY: STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS: ALL EYES ON CYRIL

As you’re reading this, President Cyril Ramaphosa will be getting ready to deliver the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). This year, the speech is being delivered virtually due to Covid-19. 

It’s a speech usually filled with promises and a report back on what the government has achieved in the last 12 months. And what a year it’s been for Ramaphosa. Since the last SONA, a pandemic has ravaged the globe, throwing SA’s economy into a tailspin and causing thousands of deaths. 

So what can we expect from the president this year?

City Press says that Ramaphosa is likely to map out an economic recovery programme. He’ll also talk about trade on the African continent (an important continental trade agreement came into force on 1 January), and the state of municipalities, with the local government elections coming up. Ramaphosa will also update us on the rollout of SA’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Business Day reports that Ramaphosa must decide whether to extend the R350 social grant, a vital safety net for the poor, who have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. He must also account for the R500 billion Covid-19 response plan he announced in April last year. 

Ramaphosa made many promises last February, which have (sometimes understandably) been put on the back burner thanks to the pandemic, Daily Maverick reports. But he has made progress in the fight against gender based violence, putting in place a national strategic plan and bringing the corporate sector on board. The proof will be in the pudding, when the numbers come down, Daily Maverick’s Ferial Haffajee says – but Rampahosa can be credited with making this fight a priority.

And if you’re the type who tunes in every year for the drama, usually caused by the EFF interrupting the president and staging a walkout, you’ll be disappointed this time. Since most Parliamentarians will be present on Zoom, Ramaphosa is guaranteed to be able to actually finish his speech this year without getting heckled. 

Good luck, Mr President!

This article was originally published in The Wrap here.

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