SONA 2023 a 'watershed' moment

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Acting Director General (ADG) of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Michael Currin, says this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) is not only one of the most important for the sixth administration but will also serve as a rallying call for all citizens to build South Africa together.

The ADG was speaking exclusively to SAnews ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech tomorrow evening, at City Hall in Cape Town.

“[It is] certainly one of the most important SONAs we’ve ever had. Firstly, we do find ourselves in a global context of a very low economic growth. I hope that South Africans generally [and] business and labour particularly, understand that at this SONA we have to make interventions that will bring about growth in our economy.

“Secondly, it’s a watershed moment because there are many issues that we are conscious of. We are conscious of the constraints on energy; conscious of the rampant criminal activity and other challenges [and] we have to make decisive interventions on that,” he said.

Currin highlighted that throughout the past year, government and South Africans have faced many challenges.

These include the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, Eskom’s power generation challenges and the devastating flooding in parts of the country.

He emphasised that although government is doing much work to address these challenges, communities can come together to add their solutions.

“It is very hard in tough times to look for rays of hope. But when we had the floods, we saw so many South Africans from all walks of life…that came with food, blankets and so forth. We are going through tough times. Inflation is rising and…there are a range of issues exacerbated by global conflicts.

“When we look at the state of our nation, we need to ask ourselves what it is that we can do? I appeal that we use this point to reflect on making sure that we look out for the needs of others…like getting involved in a [community based organisation] or an NGO or a faith structure.

“The state of our nation is not just something that the President must speak about. The state of the nation is also about who we are,” he said.

The ADG called on public servants to also play their part to ensure that governmental plans are executed and frontline services are delivered to citizens.

“It is also up to us. The sense of urgency, the sense commitment and passion in many public servants needs to improve.

“We have brilliant public servants. We saw during COVID-19 we had amazing nurses who worked extensively long hours, putting their own lives at risk and…also educators who went back early and had to deal with very complex schooling.

“So by no means am I saying that there isn’t good public servants. This SONA ... must be a wake-up call to public servants to say that we’ve got to do better because the future of our country as much as it’s in the hands of our publicly elected officials…it’s in our hands as public servants as well,” the ADG said.

Currin said although government is not immune to criticism, much can be achieved if citizens rally together and work with government.

“To the South African public we are saying, speak out, hold us to account. But at the same time look around to see where you can make a contribution to build our country. It is our country…let’s build our country together,” Currin concluded. –