Sona 2024: Ramaphosa’s Tintswalo story ‘is a lie’

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 2024 State of the Nation address at the Cape Town City Hall.

South Africans don’t buy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “Tintswalo” story.

During his 2024 State of the Nation address (Sona), Ramaphosa spoke of a fictional child of democracy named Tintswalo, whose life has been improved by 30 years of ANC governance.

But South Africans have said the 2024 Sona was a slap in the face of those struggling citizens who faced multiple difficulties in finishing school, finding jobs, accessing opportunities, starting businesses, accessing healthcare and achieving financial stability.

Ramaphosa delivered the last Sona of the sixth administration to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces at the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday evening.

As a result of new parliamentary rules, Ramaphosa’s speech was not interrupted by calls of “point of order, chair” by opposition members.

Ramaphosa used Tintswalo to highlight the successes of the governing ANC over the last 30 years.

Hailing the government, he said Tintswalo, and many others born in democracy, were beneficiaries of the first policies of the democratic state to provide free healthcare for pregnant women, and children under the age of six.

“Tintswalo’s formative years were spent in a house provided by the state, one of millions of houses built to shelter the poor.

“Tintswalo grew up in a household provided with basic water and electricity, in a house where her parents were likely to have lived without electricity before 1994.

“Tintswalo was enrolled in a school in which her parents did not have to pay school fees, and each school day she received a nutritious meal as part of a programme that today supports 9 million learners from poor families.

“The democratic state provided a child support grant to meet her basic needs. This grant, together with other forms of social assistance, continues to be a lifeline for more than 26 million South Africans every month.

“With this support, Tintswalo – democracy’s child – was able to complete high school.

“Through the assistance of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Tintswalo attended one of our TVET colleges and obtained a qualification.

“When Tintswalo entered the world of work, she was able to progress and thrive with the support of the state’s employment equity and black economic empowerment policies.

“With the income she earned, she was able to save, to start a family, to move into a better house, and to live a better life,” he said.

According to the president, this was the story of millions of people who have been born since the dawn of democracy.

But South Africans were not having it, taking to X (formerly Twitter) to express their grievances.

“l am Tintswalo even though I was born 8 years before democracy. The ANC’s strides are undeniable. But I also know that disastrous neoliberal policies, corruption, and rent-seeking have squandered our liberation,” @kunenephindz said.

“Tonight Tintswalo couldn’t watch the #SONA2024 because of load shedding,” @Mgayi4 said.

“Tintswalo and her peers are facing challenges in securing jobs, despite her graduation five years ago,” @LindoMyeni said.

Others commended the ANC-led government for shaping their lives for the better.

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