State of the Nation: 10 key issues
Carien du Plessis, City Press
Cape Town - Not sure what to make of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address? City Press political reporter Carien du Plessis does the work for you.
1. Job creation: The results of government’s efforts “are encouraging, but we’re not out of the woods yet”. In 2011, 365 000 people were employed, which is the country’s best performance since the 2008 recession. There was no update on where we are with the “five million jobs by 2014” promise from Zuma’s previous State of the Nation address.
2. Mining: “We remain committed to the creation of a favourable and globally competitive mining sector, and to promote the industry to attract investment and achieve both industrial growth and much-needed transformation”. Zuma also mentioned the beneficiation strategy, but there were no promises on nationalisation.
3. Infrastructure development: There will be five major geographically-focused programmes in various provinces, connected to mining, transport and agriculture.
4. Housing: The R1bn guarantee fund to promote access to loans for people earning too little to qualify for home loans and too much for RDP homes, will start working in April.
5. Electricity: Until the Medupi and Kusile power stations come into operation, the electricity system will be “very tight” and we must save. Government continues to search for renewable energy sources.
6. Education: Government is pleased that the matric percentage pass is on an upward trend and that Grade R enrolment is rising, but it is still concerned that 120 000 7- to 15-year-olds are not in school. There were giggles in the House as Zuma thanked teacher unions for supporting government’s campaign to be in class, on time.
7. Health: No update on how the National Health Insurance is progressing, but the refurbishment of hospitals and nurses’ homes for this is going ahead. South Africans should “live healthier lives to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension", Zuma said.
8. Land reform: Nothing new here, except that government has only distributed 8% of its 30% target (by 2014), and that the willing-buyer-willing-seller principle hasn’t worked. The land reform green paper was released last year.
9. Labour broking: No promise was made on an outright ban, which is what Cosatu has asked for. Instead, government “seeks to eliminate all forms of abuse practices inherent in labour broking”. Zuma also said he hoped “common ground” would be found this year on the matter.
10. Social cohesion: This year many heritage projects will be undertaken, including revamping the graves of struggle heroes. The presidential guesthouse in Pretoria is to be named after former ANC leader Sefako Makgatho and the diplomatic guesthouse after Johnny Makatini, a “late prolific diplomat”.