THERE were some bright spots in Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech. He claimed he will hold ministers to account and develop a smarter, better administration. And he promised to overhaul schooling by getting classes to start on time. Yes, this is something we should be grateful for, believe it or not.
What was lacking was a vision, a direction, an idea to drive South Africa Inc. What are our strengths and weaknesses? How are we going to press home our strategic advantages on the world stage. What is our industrial development plan?
Instead we got a well-worn list of priorities that is, frankly, unconvincing. The pastiche of promises on jobs, crime and the like felt like luke-warm porridge served after a quick stir as fresh food.
Zuma’s planning and monitoring ministeries are supposed to provide him with the weapons to develop this sort of critical focus, but they seem to be operating with the urgency of a home affairs teller.
All of this means that we will continue to fall behind a world where competition for investment is ruthless and where the tolerance for governments that increase social spending even as their revenues fall is minimal.
Zuma could at least have used this stage to try and rebuild the credibility of his office. He might not know it but he is the running joke at the taxi ranks at the moment. He appears oblivious/unwilling/unable to address this crisis of legitimacy.
A lost opportunity.
I stand before you this evening, 20 years since President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela walked out of prison.
We have chosen this as the day to call this Joint Sitting of Parliament to deliver the State of the Nation Address, to celebrate a watershed moment that changed our country.
The release of Madiba was brought about by the resolute struggles of the South African people.
You will recall that the masses of this country, in their different formations, responded with determination to the call to make the country ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.
We are celebrating this day with former political prisoners who we have specially invited to join us.
We welcome in particular those who have travelled from abroad to be here, Helene Pastoors, Michael Dingake from Botswana, Mr Andimba Toivo ya Toivo of SWAPO in Namibia.
We are pleased to be joined by members of the legal team in the Rivonia Treason trial – Lord Joel Joffe, who is now based in London and Judge Arthur Chaskalson.
We also remember and pay tribute to Mr Harry Schwarz, who sadly passed away last week.
He was amongst other things, a member of the Rivonia defence team.
We extend our gratitude to our friends and comrades in the international community, for fighting side by side with us to achieve freedom.
We extend a special welcome to the Mandela family. Read More…
Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
5 June 2009
President Jacob Zuma made several laudable promises in his State of the Nation Address on Wednesday. One of them was that his new administration would direct public servants to “improve public services and strengthen democratic institutions”. He promised to put “people first in service delivery”.
But President Zuma failed to explain convincingly how his government intends to make the public service more service-oriented and accelerate service delivery. Read More…
State of the Nation Address by His Excellency JG Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, Joint Sitting of Parliament, Cape Town
3 June 2009
On the 22nd of April, millions of South Africans went out to cast their votes. They exercised their democratic right spurred on by the desire to change their lives for the better.
In their overwhelming numbers, they confirmed that working together we can do more to fight poverty and build a better life for all.
They were encouraged by the vision of an inclusive society, a South Africa that belongs to all, a nation united in its diversity, a people working together for the greater good of all. Read More…
Jacob Zuma will deliver his state of the nation speech today. I think we should be moving beyond the motherhood and apple pie stage to some concrete ideas about how this country is going to be saved from economic disaster and how the public health and schooling systems will be repaired.
He (mostly) has the ministers in place to drive an agenda. But does he have the political will?
Because he is going to have to fundamentally change the way the public service is managed and how financial resources are administered if he is stand any chance of bringing about improvement. That would make him unpopular with the public sector unions.
ON Wednesday, Jacob Zuma will deliver his state of the nation address to Parliament.
His speeches have to date struck a tone of reconciliation and healing. He has signalled that his government will be “caring” and people-centered.
But he needs to use this speech to go further and map out the mechanics of his plan to revive South Africa.
Platitudes about caring are no longer sufficient.
South Africa is in the third quarter of a recession and there are many signs that things are going to get worse before they get better.
The public service which the Zuma government has inherited from the Mbeki years is in tatters.
Hospitals and public schools are taking a lot of strain. They do not need more funding. They need better management of their existing budgets.
More than that, our leading public institutions need to be properly managed so that they once again become centers of excellence.
The state of Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, situated as it is in the heart of Soweto is a national scandal. Surely it was not the intention of the government to transform this world class institution into a place of fear and loathing? It along with other key public hospitals needs serious attention.
The list of schools in the townships and the suburbs where standards are way below par is also a national embarrassment. Tinkering with funding models and appointing poor quality principals has taken a massive toll.
Zuma must forget about the rhetoric and explain how he intends to make our hospitals, schools and other public institutions effective providers of services to those without the money for private institutions.
THIS just in: The ANC in the Western Cape is freaked out. Why? Because the Western Cape legislature has scheduled Helen Zille’s state of the province address for four days BEFORE Jacob Zuma gives his state of the nation address. Apparently this is a breach of protocol.
Here’s a letter written by the ANC’s Max Ozinsky on this matter:
Dear Sheikh Esau
RE: PROGRAMME OF THE LEGISLATURE
The ANC has been given a “programme” for the legislature until the end of July. To date no meeting of the Programming Authority has taken place, nor was there any consultation with the opposition parties before the “programme” was issued, as is required in the Rules of the Provincial Parliament.
In view of this, the programme” cannot be considered an official programme of the Legislature.
Nonetheless, instructions have been given to make arrangements to implement the “programme”.
We are concerned that in this “programme”, it is indicated that the Premier’s State of the Province speech will take place on the 29th May, four days before the President of the Republic delivers the State of the Nation address.
It is convention and tradition that Premiers make their State of the Province addresses after the President delivers his State of the Nation address, so that they may respond to the national policy framework and direction provided by the President. It would seem that this “programme” has been insisted on by the Premier, so that she can use her reply to the debate to respond to the President’s address, without giving other parties this opportunity, as they will have spoken in the Legislature debate before the President’s address.
We are concerned that it is the Premier who is driving the programme of the Legislature and not the Programming Authority, or the other arms of the Legislature. This has grave implications for the oversight role and independence of the Legislature in relation to the Premier and the Provincial Government.
We hope, Speaker, that you will ensure that the Legislature functions according to its rules and that the date of the State of the Nation address will be changed. We also call for the Programming Authority to meet as soon as possible.
Chief Whip, Official Opposition
Is this a real issue or just another flabberblast?
Here they are, the lines that got the most applause in President Thabo Mbeki’s State of the Nation speech to Parliament today:
1. … Mr Jacob Zuma, Former Deputy President of the Republic and President of the African National Congress …
2. Allow me on this occasion of the penultimate Joint Sitting of the third Parliament for the annual debate on the state of our nation, to wish all the Honourable Members of Parliament a happy and productive New Year.
3. I speak here today in the presence of my mother, Epainette Mbeki …
4. I would also like to take this opportunity to salute President Nelson Mandela …
5. … we remain firm in our resolve to continue building the kind of South Africa that has given hope not only to our people, but also to many others outside our borders.
6. This is not a time for finger pointing, but for working together in finding solutions.
7. This having been said, it is however also necessary that we take this opportunity to convey to the country the apologies of both the Government and Eskom for the national emergency which has resulted in all of us having to contend with the consequences of load shedding.
8. including the hosting of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, bring out in even bolder relief the confidence that humanity has in our country as a strategic player in the noble endeavours of all humanity. But we should not take this for granted.
9. Once more we thank the Springboks for showing the way when they won the Rugby World Cup last year. This must inspire Bafana Bafana, as it must inspire our athletes who will compete in the Beijing Olympic Games later this year.
10. Accordingly, we will this year complete the licensing and operationalisation … even Tony Leon can’t read this word …
11. … an agreement has been reached with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to place a moratorium on the sale of land that can be availed for the housing programme.
12. As such, in the spirit of Business Unusual, government intends this year to intensify the campaign to identify specific households and individuals in dire need and to put in place interventions that will help, in the intervening period, to alleviate their plight.
13. … the Budget will provide for an increase in the social grant system by equalising the age of eligibility at 60, thus benefiting about half a million men …
14. … scaling up the National Youth Service programme including a graduated increase of the intake in the Military Skills Development programme of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) from the current 4 000 to 10 000.
15. … intensifying the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) which, by surpassing the set targets, has shown potential to absorb more entrants …
16. The first of these is a proposal that we should develop an oath that will be recited by learners in their morning school assemblies, as well as a Youth Pledge extolling the virtues of humane conduct and human solidarity among all South Africans.
17. … critical vacancies should be filled within six months of such openings emerging.
18. … by May of every year (and within two months of the beginning of the financial year at local government level) all senior managers should have filed their Key Performance Agreements with relevant authorities.
19. In this regard, this year, in consultation with public sector unions, we will convene a Public Sector Summit to thrash out these issues so that the spirit of Batho Pele can find concrete expression wherever a government service is provided.
20. With all hands on deck, and committed to conduct our business in an unusual and more effective fashion, we shall sustain the process of our reconstruction and development and take it to even higher levels.