The State of the Nation Address of the President of South Africa ( SONA) is an annual event, in which the President reports on the status of the nation, normally to the resumption of a joint sitting of Parliament (the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces). This is a time when the President ought to address more than victories, but also an oportunity to lead by addressing critical issues that continue to harm South Africans.
The speech marks the opening of the parliamentary year and is usually attended by important political and governmental figures of South Africa, including former Presidents, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court and other members of the judiciary, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Ambassadors and Diplomats to the Republic.
Africa Check: By their very nature, State of the Nation addresses are tricky to fact-check. They are written by committees, the product of many hands and input from many government departments and agencies. The facts and figures that make the final cut are carefully selected and often stripped of nuance and context to present the most positive picture possible.
This month President Jacob Zuma will present his seventh State of the Nation address and the last of his current term. Viewed in isolation, without context much of what tends to be presented cannot be verified as absolute fact. To truly evaluate the speech must be analyzed in context, failing which they usually denote a 100% victory on issues, where the issues remain serious issues. That is not helpful to a country still struggling on many issues which tend to be claimed as victory, when not fully contextualized. One example of the imperative need to contextualize is water delivery. In his past speech Zuma claims 95% of South Africans now have water delivery. But he fails to break down that percentage of where and how it is acquired - in tin cans at nearby corner? A few miles walk from a village? South Africa still suffers from huge incidence of rape against women, an enormous violent crime rate, homophobia and transphobia against its LGBTI community. The South African Constitution is fully inclusive and also prohiibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Surely It is the Presidents duty to remind all South Africans to abide the Constitution and of their duty to respect all in South Africa.
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