Key DA proposals in Zuma speech - Zille
Cape Town - It was encouraging to hear President Jacob Zuma announce key DA policy proposals in his state of the nation address, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Friday.
"... shows that the years of research, debate, and interventions by the DA in opposition are having an impact," Zille wrote in her weekly newsletter SA Today.
"It is very important in a maturing democracy that areas of policy consensus emerge between government and opposition. In certain areas of public policy, we are slowly moving in that direction."
She said the compulsory literacy and numeracy testing of all grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils was a policy the DA began implementing in the Western Cape ten years ago.
Zuma also mentioned the "Triple T" - teachers, textbooks and time, which Zille said was her "mantra" when she was provincial education minister.
"It is gratifying to hear that the president is listening.
"There appears to be a willingness on the part of national government to be pragmatic about policy-making. If a policy is proven to work or is based on a sound idea then it should be adopted, whichever party it originates from."
Lacks overall vision
She cited the DA's social development policy, released before the election last year, as another example.
The policy proposed that child support grants be given on condition that the child had been immunised, had adequate food and had been attending school regularly.
All this would ensure that the benefits of the grant were felt directly by the child and that the reliance on grants would decrease over time.
"In his [Zuma] speech last night [Thursday], the President promised something very similar: '...the social grants will be linked to economic activity and community development, to enable short-term beneficiaries to become self-supporting in the long run'", said Zille.
On the speech in entirety, Zille said Zuma looked relaxed and more confident than he did last year.
She said while it lacked "an overall vision", it did contain "important and welcome" policy announcements.
"The R9bn jobs fund seems to be the Youth Wage Subsidy announced by the President last year, but rebranded, perhaps to sidestep union opposition.
"It is a great pity that ideological resistance to this idea inside the ANC-alliance has prevented this subsidy from being implemented thus far, but the idea remains a good one. It has been central to the DA's jobs policies for many years," said Zille.
She added that the DA had welcomed an income tax allowance incentive when it was announced by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies last year, and would do so again.
The incentive amounts to R20bn in tax breaks to promote investments, expansions and upgrades in the manufacturing sector.
"These ideas - if implemented correctly - will make it easier to get a job and easier to create a job."
She said that some of Zuma's announcements did, however, amount to an "unwelcome intrusion" of the state into sectors where businesses would operate more efficiently, generate more taxes and employ more workers.
She cited the creation of a state mining company and the upgrading of Postbank into a fully-fledged state-owned bank as examples.
"Mining and banking are sectors which should be regulated to maximise equity and economic efficiency, and where the state should extract taxes and royalties. Any involvement by government beyond this will crowd out the private sector, embed inefficiencies and destroy economic value."
Zille said she would announce the Western Cape's plan to outline the DA's vision for the province during her state of the province address next Friday.