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#SONATings – The State of our Nation

Date: 07.17.2024

Written By

Tonya Khoury

Did you watch it? I bet you only watched until wide-eyed Julius left. Am I right? Well, I watched it so you didn’t have to and #SONA23 was not worth the late night. It wasn’t even worth the dodgy popcorn I burnt for the occasion. I have a great deal to say so join me and scratch the surface of the media this week with Acumen.

I had a dream for the #SONA23: I wanted everyone to wear their jeans and t-shirts; I didn’t want a red carpet; I didn’t want pomp and ceremony. I did not want to know who created the dress someone was wearing, and I didn’t want a 21 gun salute! I wanted a Zoom meeting. That would have been a statement, and would have stopped the #EFF storming the President during the proceedings. Mute buttons are the bomb. Many jested on social that we should have called #Mafe, SA’s #GuyFawkes, to take that rubbish down. But instead, we watched a ceremony that cost hundreds of thousands of rands.

A large gluttonous gathering of garments waddling its way up the red carpet and then colonialism at its finest. Guys, why do we have Scottish bagpipes? Why are the guards dressed in bright British red? Why is there a 21-gun-salute, and why does the President need galloping horses and flying jets? I know we’ve done this before, but this time it felt very strange. One of the TV stations had the head of the SANDF in studio and asked much the same question. And his answer was that it is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a President. When asked but why? He said, “Well, it’s written in the manual.” I don’t make these things up, these are #SONATings.

There were moments when I laughed so much. For example, there were always three people marching. I think they were waiting for cars. When cars arrived two people (man and a woman) would open the back doors of the cars. They did this exceptionally well, so well that they even opened doors when no one was in that side of the car. Yet they still stood there as if an imaginary person was getting out, and then closed the door. I thought initially it was a mistake, but it happened every single time. There was one howler of a moment when a car stopped a little too far to the back of the guardians of the car doors, and the military woman had to do a side-step shuffle to get to the back door. The driver realizing his / her error drove forward only for the shuffling military lady to do the shuffle to the right this time. After all that there was no one on her side of the car and again she opened the door for our imaginary friends. #SONAtings.

Some of the comments from attendees made me laugh, I’ll give you a few just to cheer you up as it is Friday after all. One person said that we need to be “nimble feeted”, and there was another who said it’s “no surprise we have cholera”. Another told us there is “too much water under the drain”. This set on the backdrop of a colonial show made an extraordinary juxtaposition. All dressed up to get a dressing down. #SONA23.

One thing we knew with certainty was the #EFF were going to make a show of themselves. When the crew were all finally in the municipal building, and the praise singer had sung his song, the first thing the speaker of the house said is that we should take a minute for “silent prayer or medication”. What a Freudian slip and so funny that even she got the giggles. A word on Madam Speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula, she was outstanding, and yet again, this woman held court with an iron fist. Can she be our president, even if she’s taking an Urbanol every now and again? She handled the EFF onslaught like a boss.

The President took to the podium, and so it began, not with the red tide, but this time with ATM leader #VuyoZungula,who after refusing to sit down, was removed from the house. Queue the #EFF with more spurious points of order than the pieces of gum in their mouths. For the most part, #Nqakula kept her cool and then she called it off and told them all to sit down, and no more points of order would be allowed. Well, I suppose she could have added, “By the EFF” because that’s what she meant. It was at this point, completely rehearsed obviously, that the EFF started fluttering placards and shouting, “Point of order!” at the top of their voices as if it were a screaming competition. It was disgraceful and an insult to our nation who are hanging on for a lifeline. Eventually she called in the #WhiteShirts to remove certain members of the EFF. And then a scene of orchestrated horror. The #EFF, all of them, stormed the stage where the President was seated. They had one aim in mind: Cyril #Matamela Ramaphosa. #Nqakula called for the SAPS to immediately get involved, and the President’s bodyguards formed a tight circle around the President. The #PresidentialGuard, stealthy and dressed for the occasion, swung into action. As the SAPS and the white shirts fought back the EFF, the EFF put the female party members in the front. (Women first hey?) Headline grabbers! Well so they thought, but #Nqakula had thought about that too. She called the female SAPS,  and these woman made their way and grabbed the screaming red-doeked women by the scruff of their necks, and then it really kicked off. Note to the wise, #Ndlozi smiled throughout the whole thing.

I have questions, lots of them. Surely storming the president is a treasonous act? I mean, I bet if I did it I’d probably be in jail or shot on sight? Am I right? If we all knew, because Julius held a presser to tell us, that there was going to be trouble, why didn’t we just have a zoom meeting guys? All those hundreds of thousands of rands while the nation is starving, living in the dark, without water or with water that we can’t drink. What are we doing here? #SONA, the State of our Nation Address.

We were engaged as a nation, with 95000 people commenting on the event and a strong negative sentiment of -59%.

Earlier in the week, the president was quoted as saying that we as a nation need to stop moaning and get involved. So eventually, when he did speak we were all attentive. Even #UncleGwede had a notepad and pen. #Ramaphosa said three things: One, he has declared our energy crisis a #StateofDisaster. Two, we have a #MinisterOfElectricity, and three, there will be a massive #CabinetReshuffle. That was it. He could have sent us a memo. Let me quickly unpack this so you don’t have to read the news.

The State of Disaster will open up the coffers for more cash for #Eskom. The President said that he would have these funds monitored by no other than the #AuditorGeneral, and yes, it sounds impressive, but if you’d seen #DeRuyter earlier in the week, then there is not a chance in dark hell that the money will go to the right cause. De Ruyter unpacked the depth of corruption and how it is impossible to stop. The President said we should all go for solar power or wind power or so many different forms of power except the powerful Eskom. To be fair, Sir, I think we already worked that one out.

Then the Minister of Electricity, um, why? We don’t have a Minister of Potholes or a Minister of GBV. Are those still coming? I have a sneaky suspicion that this move means #GwedeMantashe will be stripped of his control of #Eskom. Hence the upcoming reshuffle. Let’s hope the president shuffles that deck of marked cards right out of the room. There are so many on my wish list. No one more than #LindiweSisulu who had an interesting week, too.

That #TottenhamHotspur deal got passed around like a hot soccer ball and when Madam Medusa was called to account by Parliament, she arrived four hours late (so much for luxury watches). Four hours! The insolence of this woman. When she made it into the room there was no space for her to sit and she played rounders with the boardroom table until she told “someone” to get her a chair. A lady (gallant gentlemen don’t exist in parliament) ran behind her with a chair only for #Lindiwe to completely ignore the woman’s efforts and sit elsewhere. She then started speaking over the Chair (pardon the pun) only to be schooled by Thandi Mahambehlala, who said that #Sisulu should be reminded of the rules of parliament and her behaviour was nothing less than revolting. Moving back to SONA, Sisulu was asked about her relationship with Thandi and she said, “Ah shem, she’s not very well and when the cameras arrive she turns into a different person”. Ooo! I wanted to slap that medusa head right off her shoulders. Anyway, the short version is many resigned or were fired about the deal and it’s now on ice.

There was other news, most of it cheerful, so let’s focus on that. #DDMabuza resigned – whoop! The #Grammys, #BlackCoffee tore down the house and #ZakesBantwini made a phenomenal impact. We may not have a lot, but we have the tunes. And the #RealHousewives are back, I’m saving them up for a binge session. Don’t judge me!

Across the waters, and certainly the biggest story in the world, is the twin quakes that hit Turkiye and other countries. Tens of thousands dead and children being dragged out of rubble. The horror, the pain and suffering are beyond our ability to comprehend. Thank you to #GiftofTheGivers for taking on this crisis. In other news, the Chinese lost a balloon which made great memes. Ukraine is in tatters, but Zelensky found a way to make a trip to Paris to collect his “Legion of Honor” from Macron. Insert eyeroll here. I’ve saved the best for last. #FawltyTowers is coming back as John Cleese and his daughter have got together to do a series that will no doubt save the world’s sanity.

I’m Tonya Khoury and my goodness that was a big scratch on the surface of the media.




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