Above Standing: DDP's Sphamandla Mhlongo, and Mbalenhle Mkhize.
Front: Prof. Bheki Mngomezulu Director of CANRAD at the Nelson Mandela University, DDP's Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki and Dr. Lubna Nadvi, Senior Lecture at UKZN, during the DDP SONA2024 Public forum in Durban.
On 7 February, the Democracy Development Programme hosted its first forum of the year ahead of the 2024 SONA Forum, which is set to take place on 8 February. The theme for the forum was Unpacking the Budget Speech of 2023 and its implications on SONA.
The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is an annual address to the nation by the President of South Africa as the Head of State. It is usually delivered in a joint sitting of Parliament – customarily at the beginning of an annual session. The President sets out the government’s key policy objectives and deliverables for the year ahead. It highlights the achievements and challenges experienced over the past year and maps the year ahead and beyond. It covers wide-ranging political, economic, and social matters and considers the general state of South Africa. It deliberates on South Africa’s domestic affairs and its continental and international relations. Political parties can then debate, comment, and raise questions on matters addressed in the President’s speech.
Given that 2024 is an election year, South Africa will be subject to not one but two SONAs, with a second national address to be delivered by the next president of the country after the national vote. Because of this setup, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on 8 February is likely to be dominated by the president taking stock of the work his administration has done over the last five years, leaving the announcement of new initiatives and measures to tackle South Africa’s various crises to the second speech later in the year. As with the previous SONAs, analysts anticipate inflated successes and empty promises from the president – with a mix of subtle election campaigning for the ANC. However, there are key topics that are likely to stick out:
Energy and rail crises;
During DDP’s SONA Forum, Prof Bheki Mngomezulu unpacked the political mood of the South African state, taking into consideration the launch of new political parties, the ANC’s January 8th Statement and various manifesto launches. This was followed by a discussion led by Dr Lubna Nadvi who examined the 2023 SONA and forecasted the 2024 SONA and South Africa’s role in the international sphere. Both sessions served as a segway for the audience to discuss their perspectives and views on the scorecard for the 6th administration. This year’s address comes with great anticipation but undergirded with apathy, with many audience members critical of the action necessary to implement the government’s key policies.
Rise Mzansi KZN Convener, Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo, IFP President VF Hlabisa, DDP's Partner Liaison and Development Officer Mbalenhle Mkhize and Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki at the DDP Civic Education Conference.