Africa is littered with examples of liberation movements that came to power with a specific purpose but then struggled to transition into political and administrative parties. They ultimately failed as they were ill-equipped to run an immensely complex economy that must consider a myriad of different goals and priorities. It is a political process that aims to keep the voters’ support but requires strong administration skills, or the entire structure self-destructs under the weight of inefficiencies, maladministration and failure to deliver basic services. Unfortunately, the ANC has not learnt from the failures seen throughout most of the continent, or we would not be debating life after the ANC and whether the ANC will eventually lose its majority in 2024.

It is in this context that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Ramaphosa takes place tonight at 19h00. The build-up to this year’s SONA has been relatively low-key compared to the hype and so-called Ramaphoria that existed when Ramaphosa delivered his first SONA in 2018. It may, however, get off to a somewhat smoother start compared to previous years, given a High Court ruling preventing six senior members of the EFF from attending the SONA.

Nonetheless, ahead of the national election this year and in the context of the waning of the ANC’s popularity, President Ramaphosa will likely use the SONA as an opportunity to boast about the ANC’s achievements over the past 30 years rather than focus on over-promising. As such, social assistance to the poor will likely feature strongly and even plans to introduce a Basic Income Grant may be hinted at. This follows renewed calls for this grant in the party’s statement on 8 January.