SONA 2020: The good, the bad, the funny and the glamorous

A sex offender list, a stoner joke and also Miss Universe was there

SONA 2020 happened last week. In case you missed it (there was a serious delay), here are some key takeaways. We look at the highlights and the lowlights as we unpack what President Ramaphosa had to tell us at the State of the Nation Address.

Related: SONA 2019: The 8 Boldest Promises, The Plan, And The Best Outfits

The Good

  • Foregrounding women empowerment

We were introduced to SheTradesZA, a platform supporting women-owned businesses and taking them global. ‘The empowerment of women is critical to inclusive economic growth,’ said the president. So what’s the plan? During the next five years, R10 billion will be set aside for assisting women in business.

Related: The 6 Biggest Surprises in Ramaphosa’s 2019 Gender-Balanced Cabinet

  • Addressing gender-based violence 

As the president puts it, this is ‘only beginning of this struggle’. Therefore he remains committed to fighting the “scourge” of violence perpetrated by men against the woman of our country. So what’s being done about this?  Well, there’s the R1.6 billion allocation that’s been set in motion. He’s also amending the sexual offenses act so that names are included in a national sex offender register.

Related: South Africa’s Horrifying Gender-Based Violence Stats and the Latest Plan to Fix It

  • A fresh approach to climate change

Keeping up with important youth activism, the president met with a young South African climate activist, Ayakha Melithafa. She attended the World Economic Forum and has called on world leaders to take climate justice seriously. President Ramaphosa promised her and the nation that he will ensure ‘no African child is left behind’ in the transition to a sustainable low-carbon society.

 

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The struggle continues ✊🏾 but getting acknowledged is quite awesome

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  • Cheaper data for those who can’t afford it

It’s time to bring people into the digital economy. So President Ramaphosa has agreed to cut data prices and expand access to the internet. In particular, for low-income households.

  • Sign language will be the 12th official language

Now we are ‘poised to finalise this matter’, he says. Good move. And refreshing to see our government deliberately become less ableist.

  • Remembering Joseph Shabalala

Quoting a moving lyric written by the late Joseph Shabalala, President Ramaphosa paid tribute to the musical legend who recently passed away. His words still ring true today:

‘We face high mountains, must cross rough seas. We must make our place history and live with dignity … As we climb to reach our destiny, a new age has begun.’

Related: Why Joseph Shabalala will forever be remembered

The Bad

  • A near two-hour delay

Yip, you guessed it. The endless points of order by the EFF meant a delay of around an hour. Followed by another long wait until things got going again after the EFF left. In total, there was a 94-minute delay.

  • The FW de Klerk saga

But what were the EFF objecting to? They were calling for former apartheid president FW de Klerk to leave Parliament. Last week, in an interview, he said that apartheid was not a crime against humanity:

‘I don’t fully agree with that (it was evil and a crime against humanity), and I am not justifying apartheid in any way…. It can never be compared with genocide, there was never genocide.’

Not gonna lie, this is a f*cked up thing to say. And the EFF wasn’t having any of it. They also wanted Minister Pravin Gordan fired.

  • Gatvol parties

Obviously, there were many parties who were upset by the delay. So they took the opportunity to express how “gatvol” they are of this behaviour and disrespect of the nation. Minister Patricia de Lille is worried that it sets a “bad precedent” and undermines the speaker.

  • Loadshedding will continue

Eskom will be restructured. And municipalities can now source electricity from independent power producers. But President Ramaphosa was also realistic when he said:’

‘To improve reliability of supply, load shedding, unfortunately, will remain a possibility for the immediate future.’

The Funny

  • The president joking about weed

Never thought I’d see the day when the president joked about smoking weed, but here we are, and it’s pretty funny. When speaking on the cannabis industry, he remarked that some people were getting quite excited. And the president said he wasn’t sure whether it was because they (MPs in parliament) were users themselves.

In case you didn’t know, weed is legal now (but still regulated). President Ramaphosa says the cannabis industry will be developed for medicinal purposes. This will provide opportunities for small-scale farmers. So bring on the hemp products.

  • ‘This is not our perfect wedding’ – Dr. Mbuyiseni Ndlozi

The greatest quote of the evening goes to Comrade Bae for this gem. It pretty much had everyone in stitches.

The Glamorous

  • The famous special guests that slayed us

So our Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, graced Parliament with her presence and so did Siya Kolisi, leader of the 2019 World Rugby champions.

Related: Here are all of Zozibini Tunzi’s looks from Miss Universe 2019

 

  • The dopest outfits

As usual, President Ramaphosa’s suit was both fire and locally made. Encouraging us all to buy local, he led by example with a slick suit made by South African workers in Cape Town.

ANC MP Mandla Mandela and his wife Raabia killed the red carpet. They always do, tbh.

 

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Best dressed couple👌👌👌 #sona2020 #isixhosa❤️ #umbhaco

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So did our Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula:

 

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#SONA2020

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Naturally, a lot more was discussed including 9 new TVET colleges, coding in schools from Grade R to 3, special police units and entrepreneurship programmes, to name just a few. You can watch the full SONA here.

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