Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr Amos Masondo,
Deputy President David Mabuza,
The Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis,
Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Former Deputy President Baleka Mbete,
President of the Pan African Parliament, The Right Honourable Chief Fortune Charumbira,
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and Members of the Judiciary,
Heads of Institutions Supporting Democracy,
Deputy President of the governing party, Mr Paul Mashatile and leaders of all parties,
Members of Parliament,
Fellow South Africans,
Cyril Ramaphosa Sona Speech 2023
It is a great honour to stand before you this evening to present the State of the Nation.
For we are a nation defined not by the oceans and rivers that form the boundaries of our
We are not defined by the minerals under our earth or the spectacular landscape above it.
We are not even defined by the languages we speak or the songs we sing or the work we
do. We are, at our most essential, a nation defined by hope and resilience.
It was hope that sustained our struggle for freedom, and it is hope that swells our sails as we steer our country out of turbulent waters to calmer seas.
Even in these trying times, it is hope that sustains us and fuels our determination to
overcome even the greatest of difficulties. Just three years ago, our country was devastated by the worst global pandemic in living memory. Thousands of lives were lost, companies closed, jobs were lost. COVID 19 did not browbeat us into submission or disillusionment.
Working together, we overcame that crisis, and we have started to recover. Today our economy is larger than it was before the pandemic. Between the third quarters of 2021 and 2022, around one and a half million new jobs were created in our economy.
The Presidential Employment Stimulus has provided work and livelihood opportunities to
more than one million people.
Last year, our matriculants defied the effects of the pandemic to achieve a pass rate of 80
per cent and we congratulate them for that great achievement.
We see this spirit of determination in our artists, musicians, actors, authors and sportsmen
and women, who are making waves at home, on the continent and beyond our shores.
Banyana Banyana made us proud when they won the Women’s African Cup of Nations to
become the champions of Africa.
Zakes Bantwini, Nomcebo Zikode and Wouter Kellerman have made us proud at the
Grammy Awards for their collaboration, Bayethe.
What we have achieved as a nation over the past year, despite our challenges, remind us
that the promise of South Africa is alive.
The progress we have seen should give us courage as we look to a better future.
And yet, I address you this evening, in homes across the country, many people are suffering, many are worried, many are uncertain and many are without hope.
But of this I am certain. Whatever the difficulties of the moment, whatever crises we face, we will rise to meet them together and, together, we will overcome them.
This we will be able to do if we work together and leave no one behind.
We gather here at a time of crisis.
Our country has, for many months, endured a debilitating electricity shortage that has
caused immense damage to our economy.
And for two years before that, our society was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic that
caused great loss of life and much hardship.
The pandemic worsened a situation of deep unemployment, as the country lost 2 million
jobs. The pandemic negatively affected livelihoods and increased poverty.
In July 2021, we experienced the worst public violence and destruction in the history of our
democracy, causing over 300 deaths.
Last year, parts of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West were struck by
catastrophic flooding that caused extensive loss of life, the destruction of homes and
damage to infrastructure.
And now, persistent load shedding is impeding our recovery from the effects of these events.
We know that without a reliable supply of electricity, businesses cannot grow, assembly lines cannot run, crops cannot be irrigated and basic services are interrupted.
Load shedding means that households and supermarkets are unable to keep food fresh,
water supply is often disrupted, traffic lights do not work, streets are not lit at night.