Cyril Ramaphosa SONA 2020 time

Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams

SONA 2020: Why it’s highly likely that proceedings will be disrupted

Cyril Ramaphosa is in for a very bumpy ride on Thursday. The EFF have issued an ultimatum, and SONA 2020 could descend into Zuma-era levels of chaos.

Cyril Ramaphosa SONA 2020 time

Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams

Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth official State of the Nation Address (SONA 2020) on Thursday. Two years ago, he kicked off the supposed “new dawn” of his presidency by making a speech as the recently-elected leader. However, his honeymoon period drew to a close some time ago.

The president is currently at war with opposition parties, the Public Protector, business practitioners and even factions of his own party. If 2018 ushered in “Ramaphoria”, then 2019 was the year of “Ram-opposers”. But how will all this affect Thursday’s address? Here’s what you need to know.

Will SONA 2020 be disrupted?

Well, this has come straight from the horse’s mouth, but yes; Julius Malema and his EFF colleagues have confirmed that they will stage some sort of disruption on Thursday – if Pravin Gordhan remains in a job.

Speaking at another intense media briefing on Sunday afternoon, Julius Malema laid down the ultimatum for Cyril. He stated that firing the Public Enterprises Minister “would be the honourable thing to do”, blaming Gordhan for the deepening crisis that has engulfed Eskom:

“If the State of the Nation Address (SONA 2020) is to be peaceful, Ramaphosa must do the honourable thing and fire Gordhan. This is now long overdue, accountability means there must be political consequences to incompetence. He must go before before he runs down all the assets of the state and the people of SA.”

“The problems of Eskom have worsened under the incompetent and seemingly untouchable Pravin Gordhan. South Africa, the largest economy on the continent, has power cuts everyday, disrupting social and economic life. We will also march to the Public Enterprises Offices in Pretoria to demand his resignation.”

Julius Malema

Why Cyril Ramaphosa could be upstaged on Thursday

The backdrop of SONA 2020 will provide the most conducive atmosphere for a disruption since Zuma was in charge. Ramaphosa was given a chance in his first 365 days, but by the time he delivered his second SONA of an election year in 2019, patience amongst the opposition had worn thin. Cyril’s talk of building new cities and bullet trains – rather than addressing other, more pressing issues – irked his detractors.

Those across the divide in Parliament are now more fed-up with Ramaphosa than they’ve ever been. We’ve even got the African Transformation Movement (ATM), who have submitted a motion of no confidence against the President earlier this month. Their two MPs could also join-in with any EFF-led chaos.

SONA 2020: Devastating performance reviews for Cyril Ramaphosa

We interviewed a host of political figures in February 2019, assessing how Cyril’s first year went. Much of the feedback was negative. Natasha Mazzone said things were “at a standstill”. Pieter Groenewald claimed Ramaphosa was “captured by his own party”, despite promising to clean-up corruption. Even Cope leader Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota stuck the boot in, saying CR had been caught with his finger’s in Bosasa’s cookie jar.

The ill-sentiment has been left to brew in a year which has seen economic growth figures downgraded, unemployment reach an 11-year high and promises to revive the country’s fortunes with foreign investment have simply hit the skids.

This will be the frostiest Parliamentary crowd Ramaphosa has ever had to address. The EFF gave him a free-pass previously, but since February 2019, the Red Berets have twice entertained the idea of stopping Cyril’s speeches. Judging by the conditions, SONA 2020 is likely to be disrupted at some point on Thursday.