State of the nation addresses vary from the inspirational to the aspirational, and perhaps the best of them are both. While it was not such an address there is no better example of an inspirational speech than Thabo Mbeki’s “I am an African” speech, delivered while he was deputy president. It was rich in poetry and will long be remembered — but essentially it achieved very little.

Few speeches the president will give will be more important. They outline what has been achieved in the year past and what is envisaged for the year ahead. In a country such as SA, with so many deficits, mapping out the road to be followed is critical for any sitting president...

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