- Data analysis of the speeches written to deliver on the occasion of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) seem to provide clues as to what the president delivering the address deems important
- Data analysts have compared the SONAs from Cyril Ramaphosa with those that Jacob Zuma presented during his tenure
- One thing that seems obvious is that Ramaphosa is very concerned with unifying both the nation and the ruling party at this juncture in South African history
Briefly.co.za gathers that analysts from Mediahack, have published their analysis of six state of the nation addresses SONAs, from 2014 – the year which saw President Jacob Zuma presenting two SONAs – to the most recently inaugural address of the 5th President of the republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, in February 2018.
Mediahack is a group of independent journalists focusing on gathering and studying data from various news sources to help them build a better form of digital storytelling.
Using tools of word analysis and visualisation, Laura Grant and Alastair Otter pieced together the story of exactly how hard hard Ramaphosa had to work to unite the country after the reign of his predecessor‚ Jacob Zuma by charting how much time he dedicated to the topic in his speech.
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The pair found that Ramaphosa dedicated 474 words of his Sona to nation building‚ compared to just 180 words on the topic used by Zuma in what turned out to be his last Sona in 2017.
In their report which was published by the educational interest website, Passmark.org.za, last week, they said Ramaphosa dedicated a substantial chunk of his first SONA in Parliament on February 16 2018, to persuading South Africans to put “the era of discord, disunity and disillusionment” behind them, telling the country that: “A new dawn is upon us.”
“Working on the assumption that the number of words the president devotes to a topic is an indication of the level of importance he places on that topic, Passmark looked at the past six State of the Nation addresses and visualised the 12 topics that got the most airtime. Education, we are happy to report, has been in the top 12 in all but one year, 2016, which was, ironically, just after the #FeesMustFall protests started on campuses around the country,” they said in their report.
They also compared Cyril Ramaphosa's top 12 topics with the number of words Jacob Zuma dedicated to those same topics in his SONA speeches, publishing a comparison tool on the website that carried their report.
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