SONA non grata

David Bullard scavenges over the remains of President Ramaphosa's address

Since lockdown began back in the mists of time I’ve become a keen fan of ‘Wild Earth’ on YouTube. For those of you unfamiliar with this marvelous programme it is a daily live broadcast of a sunrise and sunset game drive beamed in from the sort of places which would cost you at least R10 000 a night to visit.

Thanks to this programme I have managed to witness a large herd of hapless wildebeest crossing a river during the great migration in the Masai Mara. It reminded me very much of South African voters as a matter of fact. On the far bank the smarter wildebeest find a way up the steep slope onto the plains above while the majority seem clueless and either return across the river from whence they came or find it impossible to climb the muddy bank to freedom and instead wait to get eaten by a crocodile.

Because ‘Wild Earth’ uses multiple cameras in various locations you are pretty sure of seeing a kill and last week there was a splendid lion kill with a large pride of lions ripping a zebra apart in front of an appreciative audience of vultures.

Undoubtedly there were some opportunistic hyenas lurking in the background to help dispose of the kill and a hopeful black backed jackal would no doubt be present just in case anything was left after the hyenas and vultures had gorged themselves.

This week I am the black backed jackal of SONA. My esteemed colleague William Saunderson-Meyer was one of the first at the kill last Saturday and my other esteemed colleague Jeremy Gordin was at the site of the kill two days earlier and lamenting the fact that there was nothing happening before his deadline.

So now, after the media lions, hyenas and vultures have almost stripped the carcass bare I now trot up to see if there is anything left to chew on. Not that it was much of a kill in the first place. Most of the media predators were left hungry or decided to hunt elsewhere because it was mostly rotten meat, some of it at least two years old.

Having attended the 2019 SONA extravaganza in person as a guest of the DA and reported the experience on these very pages I was saddened that this year was an online affair. The whole point of SONA for most of our beloved parliamentarians is that it is a cross between the Mad Hatter’s Tea party and the Durban July and gives many of them an opportunity to dress in clothing that they fondly believe makes them look stylish and sophisticated.

It also gives the hoi-polloi voters a chance to see how tastefully somebody earning over R1mln a year spends their money….or not.

Then there are the antics of the EFF to look forward to after they have changed out of their Hugo Boss suits into their red overalls. An online SONA may cost the taxpayer substantially less than the usual overblown shindig but what is an opening of parliament without the mass choir of the EFF and the opportunity for them to take a swing at a journalist outside parliament?

So without the spectacle all we are left with is the content and there wasn’t much of that to convince any of us that the good times are about to roll. There was the usual promise of lots of jobs being created as indeed there was two years ago.

That was when 2 million new jobs were promised and we’re still waiting for those. Rather as the residents of Alexandra are still awaiting the one million new homes promised just before the 2019 election I suspect.

In fact, unless you are fortunate enough to live in or near Lanseria, there was very little to get excited about. Lanseria (or Cyriltopia as I believe it may be renamed) is the site chosen for the new smart city which we are led to believe is already springing up. It will be home to between 350 000 and 500 000 lucky South Africans (bad luck the other 57.5 million) and will have free wi-fi, full employment, fabulous state of the art amenities and, thanks to facial recognition artificial intelligence, will be largely crime free.

The unique selling point (as the marketers like to say) of Cyriltopia is that it will be the first city built since the fall of apartheid. Hopefully this will compensate for the many cities that have been destroyed since the fall of apartheid.

The doubters will no doubt ask questions such as what about the 48 000 potholes in Gauteng’s roads and the raw sewage running down some streets? What about the rolling blackouts and the uncollected rubbish, the broken pavements, the weeds growing on the sides of main arterial roads and the high levels of crime? What about the bankrupt municipalities that can’t even function?

Sadly there will always be doubters and our finance minister Tito Mboweni hit the nail on the head last week when he tweeted:

“Increasingly, it seems to me, but maybe obvious, that our non-racial dream is not embraced by the majority of white South Africans. True or not? If true, what is the substitute of non-racialism? Philosophically and politically”.

These pesky white South Africans either don’t have much of a sense of humour or maybe they have come to regard the “non racial dream” as more of a racist nightmare over the past decade.

There are just one or two small obstacles to be overcome before Cyriltopia rises out of the dust of the Highveld in 2030. Essential services first have to be connected and since the maintenance of mundane things like water and power supply have been so badly neglected for 27 years the ribbon cutting ceremony may have to be delayed a year or two.


Obviously unemployment is a major challenge for the government so it was good to hear that a new job creation scheme called the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council is to be set up and members will soon be appointed to it. If it’s anything like the many other advisory bodies and assorted boondoggles the ANC love to set up I imagine that the remuneration packages will be very generous.

What the other SONA black backed jackals haven’t yet asked is what on earth a National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council will actually do?

I should have thought that corruption was a pretty cut and dried matter but evidently I am wrong. It seems that it’s necessary to have an official body to advise on it.

So, for example, if a politician were to be offered a special deal on a luxury 4X4 vehicle in return for a favour to a friend they could go along to the council who would advise them a) that it wasn’t a good idea or b) that it wasn’t a bad idea providing it’s covered up and the media don’t hear about it.

The fact that one of the most corrupt democratically elected governments on the planet sets up a National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, particularly at this rather late stage in our impressive history of corruption, strikes me as a piss-take of the highest order. All it needs now is for Tony Yengeni to be appointed as chairman.


The comment section of Politicsweb is now a members only enclosure. It came as news to me that it wasn’t previously but apparently some non subscribers had been bribing the bouncers and getting through the door without paying. Initial fears that this might lead to far fewer comments have proved unfounded thus far.

The chief benefit of keeping the riff-raff out is that the quality of discourse is likely to improve. After all, if you are prepared to pay to read Politicsweb online you have already identified yourself as a person of impeccable taste. So it’s quite natural that we contributors should welcome your comments and be prepared to interact with you.

This was virtually impossible when the likes of Sad Days and The Passing Show slipped the bouncer a fiver to be let in and then used the comments section to insult contributors, the editor and other readers or to bore most of us with their verbose and often crackpot opinions. Apart from allowing us to hear your general views then the comments section also acts as useful feedback for contributors such as myself.

[To sign up to access the comments on this and other articles just click here – Ed.]