News24

Zuma on the key issues

2009-06-03 14:26

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma delivered his first State of the Nation address on Wednesday. Below are some of the key issues and Zuma's comments on them:

Economy

Africa's biggest economy is in its first recession in 17 years after the global downturn slashed demand for its minerals and manufactured goods.

- "While South Africa has not been affected to the extent that a number of other countries have, its effects are now being clearly seen in our economy. We have entered a recession".

- "We take as our starting point the framework for South Africa's response to the international economic crisis, concluded by government, labour and business in February this year. We must act now to minimise the impact of this downturn on those most vulnerable".

Trade unions and jobs

Powerful unions which helped Zuma's rise are pushing him to shift economic policy to the left - some even threatening strikes to demand deeper cuts in interest rates.

But Zuma also wants to reassure foreign investors and his ruling African National Congress has told unions to be patient.

- "We have begun to act to reduce job losses. There is an agreement in principle between government and the social partners on the introduction of a training layoff. Workers who would ordinarily be facing retrenchment due to economic difficulty would be kept in employment, for a period of time and re-skilled".

- "Between now and December 2009, we plan to create about 500 000 job opportunities".

Poverty

Millions of black South Africans still live in townships lacking basic services, glaring reminders of decades of apartheid. The government hopes to halve poverty by 2014. The ANC has said creating jobs will be a focus of economic policy.

- "As you would be aware, the fight against poverty remains the cornerstone of our government's focus ... We shall not rest, and we dare not falter, in our drive to eradicate poverty".

Corruption


Zuma will be under close scrutiny on this because prosecutors dropped an eight-year corruption case against him just before the election in April.

- "We have repeatedly stated our commitment to fight corruption in the public service. We will pay particular attention to combating corruption and fraud in procurement and tender processes".

Crime

South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime. There were 18 487 murders and 36 190 rapes reported in 2007-2008. Police are under pressure to ensure streets are safe before the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

- "Let me emphasise that we all have a role to play in this war against crime. We must actively participate in Community Policing Forums. We must stop buying stolen goods, which encourages crime. We must report crime and assist the police with information to catch wrongdoers. In this way, we will move forward towards a crime-free society".

Aids

About 5.5 million people (about 12% of a population of 47 million) are infected with HIV. There are 500 000 new infections every year.

Officials in former President Thabo Mbeki's government angered Aids activists by questioning accepted science concerning the virus.

- "We must work together to improve the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan for the Treatment, Management and Care of HIV and Aids so as to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by 50% by the year 2011. We want to reach 80% of those in need of (anti retro-viral) ARV treatment also by 2011".

Land


The ANC plans to speed up land reform to help end poverty among the poor black majority but the ruling party says it will not forcibly seize farms from white landowners, as in Zimbabwe.

- "We will develop and implement a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security".

Reuters