POLL | Did the story of Tintswalo resonate with you?

09 February 2024 - 12:00
By Rethabile Radebe
Delivering his state of the nation address on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke of the ANC's achievements.
Image: REUTERS/Esa Alexander/Pool Delivering his state of the nation address on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke of the ANC's achievements.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's analogy of a young South African girl by the name of “Tintswalo”, who was born in 1994 after apartheid was abolished, received mixed reaction, with many criticising Ramaphosa for appearing to be “tone deaf”.

Delivering his last state of the nation address for the sixth administration on Thursday, the president seemingly made an emotive example of the young lady who has benefited from the ANC's efforts.

In Ramaphosa's imagination, “Tintswalo” is a child born into a euphoric democratic South Africa, where she is given free education, housing and other services by the state.

The name is from the Xitsonga language, meaning the offering of good virtues such as love, peace and gratitude to someone after they have offered to you a heartwarming gift.

Opposition parties, citizens and political commentators quickly poked holes at this fantastical story, taking Ramaphosa to task about the numerous socioeconomic challenges faced by citizens 30 years after the democratic dispensation. 

Ramaphosa was reminded of the world “Tintswalo” and many others have to live in that makes contemporary South Africa not so euphoric, such as the struggling economy, load-shedding, unemployment, crime, gender-based violence, poor service delivery and many other shortcomings by the state.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the president made “glaring omissions” regarding ANC-created struggles many “born-frees” are forced to face.

“In South Africa today, there is a 70% chance that Tintswalo will be unemployed. There is a 50% chance that she is one of the 30-million people who live below the poverty line. Any day, Tintswalo could become one of the 75 people murdered or one of the 115 women raped or subjected to gender-based violence,” he said.

The debate on social media platform X was heated with many critical of Ramaphosa, saying “Tintswalo” doesn't exist while there are underdeveloped provinces where some have to walk long distances, cross rivers to get to school and use pit latrines.

Some users said they resonated with the analogy, adding they benefited from the ruling party as their material conditions changed for the better due to the government's efforts.