The President of the Republic of South Africa, on Tuesday evening presented the State of the Nation Address in Parliament, Cape Town. He started his seventh State of the Nation Address by acknowledging the passing on of one secretary of parliament as well as the former President Mbeki’s mother, MaMbeki who passed away last week and was buried on Saturday. Mr Zuma told the nation that his government would embark on radical socio-economic transformation.
In particular, he told the members of parliament that his government would work hard to improve the conditions under which mine workers were operating. He proposed that this would be done by supervising compliance to all forms of safety protocol by mining companies. In an apparent bid to appease the miners who have been on a job action for close to half of the year, he informed the nation that his government would work towards home ownership options for mineworkers. He added that this was one way in which to extend the right to dignity for mineworkers. His final comment on mining was that his government would work proactively to revitalize mining towns.
Turning to energy sustainability, Zuma said that his administration would ensure that all government-owned companies would be required to adopt redefined roles in order to achieve the targets that government had set for energy security. He alluded to the fact that the government was ready to spend as much as R847 million on infrastructure in this regard. There was also reference to the Lesotho Highland Water Project which would be completed in the next five years.
Turning to the economy, which had everyone holding their breath, the President, without being specific, mentioned that special economic zones would be set up around the country. He reiterated that youth employment would be prioritized. He went further to propose that this would be done by increasing the number of internship posts in the public sector. He applauded the private sector which he said had responded positively to the youth employment tax incentives. President Zuma went on to expound that the government anticipated that six million new work opportunities to be created. Further, the president told the nation that his government had set a target for the agricultural sector to create a million jobs by 2030.
Commenting on the speech, a number of political analysts said that the address was flat and lacked specifics. Another political commentator said that the president’s figures kept changing, which would make them unreliable.