CAPE TOWN – Opposition parties’ reaction brought the tone back to Earth with a bump on Thursday night.
They were calling President Cyril Ramaphosa out for focusing on what could be and ignoring what was.
Members of Parliament (MPs) from the opposition benches characterised his State of the Nation Address (Sona) speech as high on dreams but way too low on detail.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema summed up Thursday night’s Sona.
“There’s a new plan called dreams; the president has got no privilege of dreaming. Me and you can dream.”
It was the common theme among opposition politicians after Ramaphosa conjured up images of bullet trains, smart cities and big dreams.
But as United Democratic Movement MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa pointed out, there was little by way of the plan and nothing novel.
“Last year, it was the new dawn, now it’s a new era, and there’s a new dream. There’s really nothing new.”
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder was equally unimpressed, calling on the president to deal with reality.
“It’s a nice dream but unfortunately when the president wakes up, he will find out that he’s living in a nightmare.”
Ramaphosa’s colleagues in the African National Congress had a different view, lauding his speech as a celebration of what could be possible for South Africa.
At the same time, analysts said Ramaphosa’s address painted a rosy picture, filled with dreams and ambitions but failed to provide much-needed solutions.
Dr Josiah Nyanda said the land question, which was an important topic to investors, was skilfully evaded.
“What South Africans need is solutions to the problems that the country is facing today. What’s missing in his address is the ‘how’ part. It’s a speech that’s full of hope and promises.”
Economist Thabi Leoka said Ramaphosa’s speech lacked detail on plans to revitalise the economy and create jobs.
“He talks about growing the economy but not really how and especially which sectors. He prioritises job creation and there need to be more details as to how we’re going to create these jobs that we require.”