Zuma honest, frank - unions
Johannesburg - Trade unions praised President Jacob Zuma on Thursday for what they described as his honesty and frankness on the problems South Africa faced.
"It was good to hear the president admitting that municipal service delivery is still not on a desirable level," Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said. However, Solidarity was disappointed that Zuma did not provide solutions.
"With regard to crime, skills shortages and the pressure that is put on the rights of minorities in South Africa, President Zuma did not bring forward any significant new solutions," said Hermann.
The union also welcomed Zuma's plan to invest in big infrastructure projects, but was worried about the emphasis on empowerment instead of development through education.
The Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said Zuma's address was "inspiring".
"President JG Zuma... [was] frank about current challenges, especially the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequalities," the union said.
Fawu welcomed job creation being the focus of the massive infrastructure development plan.
"We still wish to see much more focused and deeper plans on the creation of green jobs, and the agro-processing sector becoming one of the job drivers."
The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) on Thursday questioned where the additional money for the infrastructure development plan.
"Infrastructure investment in our roads, rail, ports and water will unblock the rich mineral resources of platinum, palladium, chrome and other minerals to increase South Africa's mining potential and beneficiation programme," Fedusa secretary general Dennis George said.
"The president did however not mention where the funds for this investment will come from and what time frame will be allocated."
Infrastructure investment was a critical component of strong economic growth.
George said Fedusa was also concerned that job creation appeared to have taken a back seat.
Hardly any emphasis was placed on education in Zuma's address, he said.
Fedusa also welcomed R20bn set aside in incentives earmarked to support new industrial projects and manufacturing.