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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist


‘We are clear about the progress we’ve made’: Ramaphosa responds to Tintswalo backlash

Ramaphosa said those who disregarded Tintswalo's story are overlooking the good that has been done.


During his State of the Nation address (Sona), President Cyril Ramaphosa used the analogy of “Tintswalo” to illustrate a child of democracy.

There were some South Africans who resonated with being Tintswalo, however, some were disgruntled by the term claiming that the president was ignoring the many things wrong with the country.

On Thursday, the president responded to this dissatisfaction and argued that people who disregarded Tintswalo’s story are pushing their own agendas by overlooking all the good that has been done.

Tintswalo’s essence

Ramaphosa emphasised that Tintswalo’s story resonates deeply with many South Africans who have benefited from the current elective government. He then asked the youth to flaunt their achievements online using the hashtag “#IamTintswalo”.

In his response to the Sona debate, the president acknowledged the children of democracy in attendance at the National Assembly.

He said Tintswalo represents the transformative power of democracy and the opportunities it has afforded to previously disadvantaged individuals.

ALSO READ: Tintswalo really is South Africa’s story

“Today I am really honoured to have a number of Tinstwalos who have come to join us. Among these young people are aeronautical engineers, pilots, civil engineers, police officers, doctors, and a naval captain. They are qualified in a number of ways, all of whom have pursued their careers with the support of government departments and entities,” said the president.

From Thandi to Tintswalo

Ramaphosa highlighted the numerous success stories of individuals who were born into poverty but where able to turn their lives around.

“They have spoken not only of how democracy has improved their lives, but of their gratitude to those who fought and strived to achieve that democracy. Many have paid tribute to their parents and grandparents – and to all the generations that came before – for the struggle and sacrifice that brought down apartheid and ushered in a new era of freedom,” he said. 

Although the president painted this rainbow story of the democracy child, many were not convinced due to the realities they live in, such as daily load shedding, ongoing days without water, inaccessibility to tertiary education due to lack of funds and outstanding student debt.

ALSO READ: Tintswalo’s real story better than apartheid but not good enough

Among many others these sentiments shared on social media was: “I am not Tintswalo”.

One X user revealed that “Tintswalo” was not even an original idea by the president. He claimed it was just a remixed Ramaphosa version of “Thandi” which was introduced by the EFF’s Naledi Chirwa at the 2019 Sona debate.

‘Narrative of a failed nation’

The president acknowledged that not everyone appreciates the achievements of democracy. He said these people overlook advancements such as formal housing, access to clean water and electricity for 90% of households.

Furthermore, Ramaphosa highlighted the improved education outcomes, increased life expectancy, and poverty alleviation through social grants and the national minimum wage.

“All of these great achievements of human development do not matter to them, because Tintswalo doesn’t matter to them. They are prepared to dismiss all of this progress because it does not serve their narrative of a failed nation. It does not serve their political aspirations. It does not serve their narrow interests,” he said.

READ MORE: Poster child Tintswalo is not so lucky

Continuing the journey

Despite the progress, Ramaphosa reiterated that there is still much work to be done.

“We have travelled far and we have achieved much, but we have much further to go. We are clear about the progress that we have made, the challenges that we face, and the actions that we must now take,” the president said.

READ MORE: Sona 2024: Does ‘Tintswalo’ have a job?

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