What is the real state of our nation?

With Zuma deploying more than 440 soldiers to reinforce security and several civil rights and political groups gearing up for protest action at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) tonight, South Africans can expect plenty of drama. (Read a few SONA predictions here.)

It will be interesting to see what the highlights of Zuma’s speech will be and whether he’ll gloss over some of the more controversial issues, like some critics are expecting.

The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) recently released a document they called the “silver lining” showing the process SA has made since 1994. It’s quite interesting to see the ups and downs of the country outlined in graphics and realise that, despite all the negativity about the “new government”, there have been major improvements.

Although our pockets and budgets have taken a heavy hit in recent years, there has been progress in the economy in areas such as the inflation rate, budget deficits, disposable income per capita and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the report reads.

According to the IRR, the number of black Africans with jobs has more than doubled since 1994. There are also 176 per cent more black African professional and management employees in the workplace.

In regards to housing, their data showed that the number of families living in a formal house increased on average by 1 042 per day since 1996 and those living in a shack by 102.

More households also now have access to clean water, electricity and flush or chemical toilets.

Read the full report here.

The report was quite enlightening for me, as many people are very negative about the country’s prospects and will joyfully elaborate on how the country has gone downhill. I, for one, am certain that we’re close to a turning point, that things will get better and looking at things from a hopeful perspective.

So when you’re watching SONA tonight or reading the highlights tomorrow and despairing or complaining, remember that there are people working behind the scenes, quietly and diligently helping to make South Africa a better place for all.

SONA is scheduled to start at 19:00 today (February 9) and will be broadcast live on SABC channels and radio stations as well as Parliament TV on DSTV channel 408.

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