SONA 2024: Time for talk is over – federalise and stateproof before it’s too late

Martin van Staden - Head of Policy at the Free Market FoundationBy Martin van Staden - Head of Policy at the Free Market Foundation

Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) this year is about the most advanced function the collapsing central government can pull off. The Free Market Foundation (FMF) urges South Africans to not allow themselves to be distracted: they must take responsibility for the well-being of their own families, communities, and themselves because the government is not coming to the rescue.

SONA has become irrelevant and is nothing but an attempt at distracting South Africans from the glaringly obvious truth that our government is in an advanced stage of collapse. Such a lavish event, in a climate of rampant unemployment, high violent crime rates, the failure of Eskom, and endemic corruption, proves that government only has the ability to keep up appearances. It cannot solve any of the real problems facing South Africans.

‘South Africans, their families, and communities are on their own,’ said FMF Head of Policy, Martin van Staden. ‘Only a small number of well-functioning municipalities and the Western Cape province are still capable of providing government services. Forget about the central government.’  

Despite the fact that the centre has already buckled, many businesses and well-meaning citizens remain eagerly compliant with political edicts, even when it goes against their own interests.

South Africans should do everything in their power to stateproof themselves, thereby resisting attempts by the government to strip away their remaining freedom and responsibility.  

‘This includes minimising their tax liability as far as possible, voting for parties that favour free enterprise and limited government, and certainly, psychologically, withdrawing from the state the legitimacy it still unduly operates under,’ said Van Staden.

Subcentral units of government, like provinces and municipalities, that still have the capacity to govern well, must take the initiative, alongside the private sector, to bring about order and economic development.

‘They must not, and dare not, stand around waiting for corrupt and inept politicians in Pretoria to give them permission. Both the community federalism of the Solidarity Movement and the constitutional federalism inherent in the written Constitution must take centre-stage in the next era of South African politics,’ said Van Staden.

30 years into our democratic dispensation, it has become abundantly clear that the time of big government has come to an end.