In the 12 years that we have been organising State of the Nation events, we have never featured a panellist from the ANC, or the EFF for that matter. It is not for the lack of trying, it is because they don’t make themselves available to face the public. Is this normal?

Without having to try too hard, I have hosted many senior office bearers from the DA, and Herman Mashaba even answered his phone himself and was in the studio within days without bodyguards and minders. I have sent so many requests to the ANC and I am yet to get a reply, not even a “no”. Consider that on most days, you can turn on CNN and see an address by the US President. In the case of Donald Trump; we would have a full-blown question and answer session which regularly turned into a verbal version of WWE. Just watch BBC or Sky, and you will hear from Boris Johnson or a British senior cabinet minister on a daily basis. In South Africa… nothing.

Why wouldn’t any representative of the ANC or the EFF not want to appear on a platform like The State of the Nation?

You have to believe that in the case of the ANC, they feel that they will be attacked for leading the country on a 27-year journey down the sewer, when they had every ingredient necessary for success. You may remember that in 2014, the ANC slogan was “A good story to tell” while Jacob Zuma was in the full flight of his State Capture project. In 2021, their ANC slogan should be “No story to tell”. The EFF slogan is “Our land and jobs now”. Since the collapse of VBS and the evidence of EFF involvement, it seems like they need to clarify who gets the land and the jobs, because it seems to all be earmarked for Malema, Shivambu and their “ice-boy”.

Will voters continue to vote for parties who will not tell them what they stand for?
Will voters continue to vote for parties who will not do interviews?

Are the ANC and the EFF right to hide in the shadows and allow voters to imagine what their policies are? I don’t think that this is a great long-term strategy. I think that the world has gone in the other direction. In the days of social media, we should expect our leaders to comment in real time and not have to rely on six-weekly “family meetings”.

With all of his failings, we heard from Jacob Zuma very regularly and this allowed us to form an opinion about him. As much as some of us may not have liked his politics, some people were so taken by Zuma’s messaging that they were prepared to burn down vital infrastructure and turn the country upside down because they knew what he stood for. For some people he was so compelling that Malema was even prepared to die for Zuma

Who would do this for President Cyril Ramaphosa or the ANC when we are not sure whether they even know that we are here?


Kind Regards
Michael Sham

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