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South Africa’s Ramaphosa Under Pressure In State Of The Nation Speech

Ramaphosa has "very little" to celebrate as he has had "very little domestic success" though he has made his mark on the international stage.


File photo of South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

 

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Thursday give his most important state of the nation address in an election year when his ruling party risks losing its parliamentary majority for the first time.

Ramaphosa, 71, must rally support behind the scandal-tainted African National Congress in the speech to lawmakers at Cape Town City Hall at 1700 GMT, according to analysts.

It will be the third time he has had to give the address at City Hall after the nation’s parliament was ravaged by arson in 2022. But this will be the most closely watched of his seven annual speeches since taking office in 2018.

“It’s going to be a campaigning speech”, William Gumede, a politics professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told AFP.

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Ramaphosa has “very little” to celebrate as he has had “very little domestic success” though he has made his mark on the international stage.

South Africa was behind the landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel should do everything to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

It also hosted last year’s BRICS summit with the heads of China, Brazil and other leading emerging economies.

But Africa’s most industrialised economy is heading into elections stricken by crippling power cuts, graft that has touched the ANC, high unemployment and a slumbering economy.

Ramaphose will in the next two weeks announce the date of the elections for national and provincial MPs, his spokesman said.

They are widely expected between May and August.

But support for the ANC, once led by Nelson Mandela and in power since 1994, could win as little as 40 percent of the vote, according to the Ipsos research institute.

Polls show the ANC may have to seek a coalition government for the first time to stay in power.

Polls indicate that the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) could win between 19 percent and 31 percent of votes.

The DA has formed a coalition with several other groups in the hope of unseating the ANC.

ANC support could also be hit by former president Jacob Zuma who is promoting the breakaway uMkhonto We Sizwe (MK) or Spear of the Nation, party.

Polls have shown support for Zuma, who is battling corruption cases.

At a voter registration event in Pretoria at the weekend, Ramaphosa said he “whether people like it or not, the ANC is going to come back with a bang”.

Gustavo de Carvalho a political analyst with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) said the speech will be “an important stepping stone to see what tone we will be seeing in the upcoming election”.

Carvalho predicted “a fairly strong emphasis” on Ramaphosa’s internatioinal achievements, while they have been less important in previous years.

AFP