Former Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has said he will boycott watching this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), which he termed as a “bizarre ritual.”
In a statement on Monday, Mashaba said SONA, which President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver on Thursday in Parliament, is a “display of political disconnection from the lived experiences of the people of our country.”
He added, “Presidents, one year after the next, stand before us and describe a country that leaves most of us wondering which country they live in. Members of Parliament swan around in their matric dance outfits, walking down red carpets like Hollywood stars.”
The founder of The People’s Dialogue said post-SONA debates are simply an opportunity for “political point-scoring” for MPs who are equally out of touch.
Mashaba wondered what new would come out of SONA when there hasn’t been a single high-profile corruption prosecution so far while government continues to “sink billions” into struggling state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
“Watching this bizarre ritual, I find myself asking the question: how does any of this benefit the people of our country? I am still searching for an answer,” he said.
He claimed SONA is a symptom of South Africa’s “broken political system” that only serves politicians and their political parties.
‘Real state of the nation’
In a video accompanying his statement, Mashaba said participants in his People’s Dialogue have offered the “real state of the nation.”
He explained, “These voices are the real state of the nation, not the fancy dress show taking place in Cape Town on Thursday evening.
“I will be launching a new political party later this year that will consolidate the millions of ideas that South Africans have shared with us so that together, we can save the people of this beautiful land.”
Mashaba’s decision to boycott SONA sparked different reactions from his Twitter followers.
Some, like Goodenough Mofokeng, agreed, “This to me is very deep and actually true… The country is going down and people seem to be in a denial state. Someone said please go and have a look how Zimbabwe went down and you will understand where South Africa is going.”
However, others differed. Adriaan J De Lange wrote, “Please reconsider. The people need your full involvement in formulating government policies. A government for the people, by the PEOPLE.”