Zuma under pressure to consolidate

2010-02-10 15:05

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is expected to promise to shift delivery and

restructuring programmes up a gear in his state of the nation address tomorrow

as he seeks to rekindle trust in his administration.

The presidency has hinted that he will lean heavily on liberation

history to provide a feel-good moment when he opens Parliament, with a frail

former president Nelson Mandela looking down from the gallery 20 years after his

release from prison.

However, analysts say Zuma cannot avoid the harsh truth of the job

crisis and delivery service protests.

Susan Booysens, of Wits University, says the speech finds the ANC

“in a bit of a corner because they are in danger of losing the momentum of the

sense of new hope” that marked Zuma’s election last April.

“South African politics is seriously in need of more doing, of

turning things around. There is a legitimate expectation,” Booysens says.

If Zuma hopes to get maximum mileage out of the historical context

of his speech, the Mandela release comes in very handy, she says.

“But the hint of scandal will cast a shadow on the link between the

two presidents. It is going to place strain on the content in that in terms of

delivery he has to compensate.”

Trade union federation and restive ally, Cosatu, has draw up a list

of demands ahead of the speech.

Topped with “the creation of decent work”, it urges Zuma to explain

and remedy the state’s failure to create the half a million jobs he promised

last year.

“We shall pay particular attention to the president’s policies to

reverse the catastrophic loss of 959?000 jobs in the first nine months of

2009.”

Cosatu also urged Zuma to commit to an overhaul of the

economy.

“We hope the president will announce the dates when the growth path

will be announced, together with the date for the publication of the industrial

policy strategy.”

Aubrey Matshiqi, a senior associate at the Centre for Policy

Studies, says: “I think the best thing to do not just on job creation but on

delivery of all public goods is to keep a presidential distance by saying ‘this

is what my government will do in the course of the next 12 months’.”

University of Johannesburg deputy vice-chancellor of research,

innovation and advancement Adam Habib says he expects that Zuma will be

“reluctant to settle on targets this time”, and prudently be more “programmatic

(than quantitative)” in his pronouncement on service delivery.

Analysts agree that the speech finds Zuma compromised by the

revelations over his love life, but believe he is surviving the scandal.


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