In his state-of-the-nation address last week, Cyril Ramaphosa was frank enough to describe his "smart new city founded on the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution" as a "dream". Nothing wrong with dreaming dreams or "imagining" a country crisscrossed with bullet trains.
The trouble is that so much else of the speech also seems to have been founded on dreams. Among them: unleashing private investment, energising the state, introducing a world-class visa regime, putting a stop to electricity payment boycotts, bolstering the mining industry through targeted beneficiation, implementing master plans in various sectors, taking quantum leaps towards the economy of the future, and mobilising the entire nation behind a massive reading campaign.
Again, nothing wrong with being a visionary. The problem comes when you substitute visions for hard policy decisions. And it is an even bigger problem if you actually believe that your government is capable of putting your visions into practice.
Mr Ramaphosa was of course absolutely correct to state that "we cannot turn our fortunes around without a relentless focus on economic growth". The trouble is that 18 months into his presidency there is not much sign that he actually has any such "focus".
Mr Ramaphosa said the National Development Plan (NDP), which was adopted in 2012, had to be restored to its place "at the centre of our national effort". The NDP envisaged reducing unemployment on the strict definition from 25% in 2011 to 14% by 2020. The actual figure on that same definition is now 27.6% – almost exactly double the target.
The NDP was widely hailed by business and the media when it was launched. The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was almost alone in warning the NDP's large fan club that they were "clutching at straws". Two months ago Thabo Mbeki described the NDP as a "thumbsuck". It was, he said, not a plan but a vision and there was "no plan to implement that vision".