If I was delivering the #SONA, I would prioritise… 

On February 9, president Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivering his seventh state of the nation address. This speech is meant to report on the state of the nation. But for many South Africans, they will likely be unable to even watch the speech and see the lavish red carpet and opposition heckling due to load-shedding and a number of other (no) service delivery issues facing the country. That’s why The Daily Vox team decided to ask some young South Africans if they were delivering the speech, what would be their top priority?

These are their responses. 

Khanya Burns-Ncamashe, Programs and Research Coordinator at Rivonia Circle 

If I were to give the SONA23, I would focus on regaining the citizens’ trust and confidence in the current government. This means that I will address issues that reinforce the social contract between a government and its citizens. It is important to steer clear of empty report backs that are filled with figures and large numbers. Rather I would focus on a clear and meaningful response to fixing the issues of the country. A clear and meaningful SONA2023 is one which is birthed from a collaborative effort from the people. This will be a step away from a growing pattern of the government being accountable only to their party but rather a way of being accountable to the citizens it represents. 

Following the governments’ “ roadmap to ending load shedding” based on President Ramaphosa’s “energy action plan” , I would address the rolling blackouts as this has been ongoing for several years and it keeps worsening. The rolling blackouts are affecting education, small businesses, healthcare, employment and economic growth. 

I would present better energy solutions that will account for the current energy crisis because anything the government is planning for the year 2023 is ultimately affected because blackouts impact the efficacy and efficiency of any plan. 

If this is not done, life post-SONA will remain the same unless the government shows us a meaningful effort towards fixing the issues we face as a country – starting with the energy crisis.

Nthabiseng Mabetlela, Honours candidate in Mathematical Sciences at Wits University

In my State of the Nation Address, I would address the issue of energy security as a matter of great importance. I would provide information on the advancements made and the current status of the Energy Action Plan, emphasising the need for immediate steps to restore the stability of the system and increase its energy generation capacity. 

To attain these objectives, I would advocate for the promotion of community-based energy projects, in line with the Action Plan’s objective of procuring additional energy from private generators with solar panels. This would encourage community engagement and investment in renewable energy projects, as well as support the establishment of a national database of experts in renewable energy to manage these projects in a locally-driven manner.

Candice Chirwa, Minister of Menstruation 

If I was delivering the SONA speech, my priority would be to provide clarity and assurance that the major issues that we are going through as a country would be resolved because the state of the nation right now isn’t something that we are confident about. It would be a sombre address in recognising the pitfalls but also in stating the work that is currently being done to resolve the issue in a short-term and long-term approach. 

The issue that I feel needs addressing first and foremost is load-shedding. Secondly the crisis around youth unemployment and thirdly just regulating the way we choose to prioritise service delivery. I would address young people in the SONA to say that young people are often spoken to as future leaders but actually young people are leaders of today. They need to be prioritised and seen and recognised and need to be given the necessary resources to be the leaders of today. 

But also recognising that the reason we are in this situation is because we are being led by people who don’t have the passion, determination and rigour that young people do. 

Loadshedding and youth unemployment would be my main priorities because it’s concerning. 

The voxes have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Featured image via Flickr