The State of the Nation that never was

  • cyril ramaphosa
Howard Sackstein writes a State of the Nation address that he believes President Cyril Ramaphosa should have given this week.
by HOWARD SACKSTEIN | Feb 07, 2019

My fellow South Africans

The state of the nation is dire, we have been crippled by rampant theft and corruption, we have bankrupted the fiscus, and failed the people of South Africa. Twenty-five years since the advent of democracy in South Africa, it is unconscionable that we have created a kleptocracy that has stolen from the poor, and brought our nation to the brink of economic collapse and moral decay.

I thank you for having entrusted me with the task of righting our wrongs. Quite simply, the people of South Africa deserve better.

Integrity and justice

It is inconceivable that people walk free after having been implicated by various commissions of enquiry into state capture. It is untenable that people implicated remain in my Cabinet. They must face the full force of the law. And, if former President Zuma does not see his day in court, this will destroy the entire moral fabric of our society.

Foreign investment

I want to thank all of those business people who have been so active in assisting me in enticing foreign investment into South Africa. I pay tribute to Colin Coleman from Goldman Sachs, who partners with me on these missions, and Adrian Gore and Stephen Koseff, who joined me in Davos. We welcome the enormous investment that Israeli companies are making in South Africa, and we are delighted that the Central Bottling Company has made a R4.8 billion offer for Clover.

Job creation

These three, and Brian Joffe are the driving force behind my job-creation initiatives. A recent study by an international consulting group found that of the 9.75 million South Africans in formal employment, about 2.5 million (or a quarter of the country’s entire workforce) owe their employment to either Jewish founded, Jewish owned, or Jewish-run businesses. I call on the Jewish community to continue with this holy mission.

I want to acknowledge that Israeli coal and diamond purchases, investment, and tourism account for hundreds of thousands of jobs in South Africa. We have purchased a significant amount of Israeli technology in cyber security, medical technology, and mobile communications, without which we would be falling further and further behind the rest of the world.

Our food security in South Africa is also very much dependent on Israeli technology and expertise. Drip irrigation and Israeli agri-tech has once again turned South Africa from a nation of starvation into a food exporter.

Israeli water technology can also save this country from the crippling droughts that climate change has wrought on our nation.

Land reform

We understand the need for land reform in South Africa, and the need of people to own their own properties, especially given the long history of land deprivation by the apartheid regime. The government has resolved to begin land distribution, starting with the 67% of land already owned by the state, municipalities, and tribal authorities.

Foreign policy

There are those unpatriotic few among us who attempt to stop us dealing with Israel. They do so for their own narrow selfish interests. They do not care how many jobs are lost in South Africa as a result, or the crippling impact this will have on the South African economy. They have successfully captured South African foreign policy, and have led us to conclude co-operation agreements with racist, fascist, and neo-Nazi terrorist groups like Hamas. They have also led us to re-name the street of the American consulate in Johannesburg after a terrorist who attacked civilian aircraft and took an American diplomat hostage.

While we support the rights of Palestinians to a national home, we also support Zionism, the liberation movement of the Jewish people.

We can no longer single out Israel for criticism if we remain silent about many of our friends who are some of the worst human-rights abusers in the world. Countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Libya, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe are just a few of our friends with abysmal human-rights records.

Nation building

A key element of our year going forward will be to re-focus on nation building. It is time the politicians within my own party stopped using race for race-baiting popularism. That, the racist, bigoted rhetoric of the EFF, and the neo fascist statements of the BLF movement, have no place in a civilised democracy.

The Jewish community was always at the struggle for justice and equality in South Africa. Jews created the trade-union movement in South Africa, and many have been actively involved in the struggle against apartheid since it began.

People like Helen Suzman led the struggle against apartheid in Parliament, while Jews such as Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Rusty Bernstein, and Ronnie Kasrils led the armed struggle from beyond its borders. We call on Jews to continue this magnificent tradition.


Education must be a priority – another lesson taught to us by the Jewish community. In spite of centuries of oppression, pogroms, and victimhood, the Jewish community has always understood that education is the key to bringing a people from poverty to prosperity. We have failed the children of South Africa. Having now introduced free university education, we must ensure that universities focus on hard-skill education not politics, that students learn in class, and that university is a wide parliament of ideas where no one is oppressed or feels silenced.


In 2019, I commit myself and my government to less talk and more action. Let the people of South Africa judge us on our deeds, not on our election promises. May 2020 bring a much stronger state to our nation.


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