Minister of Electricity President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster in response to the electricity crisis in his State on the Nation Address. Image: GCIS.

SONA 2023: We asked ChatGPT to write President Ramaphosa’s speech

From tackling corruption to addressing the energy crisis, ChatGPT touched on some major issues in its speech. Who knows, in the future, an AI leader may not be just a pipe dream.

Minister of Electricity President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster in response to the electricity crisis in his State on the Nation Address. Image: GCIS.

OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, has taken the world by storm and quickly reached 100 million global users between its launch on 30 November and 23 January 2023. It is the fastest-growing consumer application.


ChatGPT is an advanced language model. It uses cutting-edge machine-learning techniques to generate human-like text based on the input it receives.

With a vast database of information and the ability to continue learning from its interactions, ChatGPT has quickly become a popular tool for generating content, answering questions, and having conversations.

The AI Language model, which wrote the two preceding paragraphs when asked to describe itself in the third person, has received some coverage in the local media.

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Business Insider asked the bot to write praise poems about South African leaders, including Cyril Ramaphosa, John Steenhuisen, Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema.

At first, ChatGPT was reluctant to praise Malema and Zuma, saying they were too “controversial.” Eventually, this changed. On the other hand, The Citizen asked ChatGPT how it would solve the load shedding crisis.

We asked the AI chatbot who should be the next Eskom CEO, and it replied, “As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to predict who will be appointed to a specific position.”

Depending on how a question is asked, ChatGPT will inform the user that it cannot elicit personal opinions or predictions because its answers are limited to the database it was trained on.

However, with a little nudge in the right direction, the app can produce results that resemble the real deal.


We asked ChatGPT to write the 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA) for South Africa, and it produced a generic SONA speech that focused on the following:

  • Addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Africa.
  • Prioritising the health and well-being of citizens, as well as addressing economic recovery.
  • Focus on reducing unemployment and creating job opportunities through private sector investment and skills development.
  • Addressing poverty and inequality through government policies and programs aimed at improving quality of life for all citizens.
  • Emphasising the importance of working together to build a better future for South Africa.

There is a glaring omission of the ongoing energy crisis, which is perhaps South Africa’s most pressing concern at the moment. However, the speech touches on unemployment, inequality and nation-building, which have traditionally been hallmarks of SONA speeches.

We asked the AI to consider an article by SA Gov News, the government news agency, that reflected on the areas Ramaphosa highlighted in the 2022 speech and the progress made over the last year before writing the 2023 SONA speech again.

This was the result:

My fellow South Africans,

Today, I stand before you to deliver the 2023 State of the Nation Address. I am proud to report that over the past year, my administration has made significant progress in addressing the challenges faced by our nation and working towards a brighter future for all.

We have taken strong steps to tackle corruption, which remains one of the greatest concerns for our citizens. The State Capture Commission has completed its work, and its recommendations have been submitted to Parliament. To further our efforts, the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council was established to provide guidance and advice on the fight against corruption.

We have also been working to build a capable state, with the introduction of the National Implementation Framework towards the Professionalisation of the Public Service, which will ensure that only qualified and competent individuals are appointed into positions of authority. This, combined with the recent signing of the Local Government Municipal Systems Amendment Act, will strengthen the performance evaluation process and ensure that our public service is professional, ethical, and developmental.

On the energy front, we have been working hard to address the worsening power crisis and ease the ongoing load shedding. The National Energy Crisis Committee has released a six-month update on progress in the implementation of the Energy Action Plan, which aims to reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding in the short term and end it altogether in the long term. We have also secured additional energy from neighbouring countries and Eskom has launched a program to purchase power from companies with available generation capacity.

In our efforts to grow the economy and create employment, we have continued with Operation Vulindlela, which is driving a far-reaching economic reform agenda to shift our economic growth trajectory and enable investment. We have also taken steps to support small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage entrepreneurship, which will play a key role in driving job creation and economic growth.

I am aware that there is still much work to be done, but I am confident that by working together, we can overcome the challenges we face and build a better future for all South Africans.

Thank you.

Time will tell how accurate ChatGPT’s speech is.