In his state of the nation address (Sona) last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced us to “Tintswalo”. One of South Africa’s “born-frees”, she grew up in a constitutional democracy that, among other things, guarantees the right to dignity. She lived in a house with basic water and electricity, provided by the state. She attended a fee-free school and received a child support grant to meet her basic needs. As a result of the state’s assistance she graduated from high school, going on to achieve a TVET qualification funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Today, courtesy of employment equity and BEE, she has a job.

Ramaphosa’s Sona was a paean to Tintswalo — the epitome of the young South African. It was also — like Sonas before — an exercise in cherry-picking: a gloss over the challenges, a dash of blame, while flagging select interventions and points of success...

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