President Cyril Ramaphosa’s third state of the nation address was longer on statecraft and strategy than his first of the year in February, even if it disappointed some critics with the lack of implementation detail.

Much of the public commentary on these addresses past and present is ill-informed and, more importantly, ill-conceived. The state of the nation address should not be a dreary laundry list of everything the government intends to do.

Those looking for an “action plan” will inevitably be disappointed. It is not supposed to be such a thing. Instead, a good state of the nation address, such as Ramaphosa’s latest, will focus on the vision and the strategy. It needs to tell the watching and listening public that the president is in command and that he knows what needs to be done and why.

This is especially so in the current context of a divided governing party, the ANC. There remains an embedded but increasingly desperate fightback campaign from former president Jacob Zuma’s network and other fellow ultra-nationalist travellers. Their current crude approach is to derail Ramaphosa’s reform agenda and sabotage his strategy for attracting new investment in the economy, both domestic and international...

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