Opposition parties slam Zuma’s ‘brag speech’

2014-02-14 08:15

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Opposition parties have panned President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, describing it as “dismal” and “misleading”.

The president was accused of bragging with an eye on the May 7 general election.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko yesterday labelled Zuma’s address “pretty dismal”, and said he had tried to ride on the coat tails of his predecessors.

“Yes, we acknowledge that South Africa is a better place to live in, but is it better than 2009, when [Zuma took office]?”

Mazibuko claimed Zuma had reversed the gains made by his predecessors, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. She said he found “creative ways” to piggy-back off them.

Read: 10 things worth knowing from Zuma’s ‘we have a good story to tell’ speech

Under Zuma, 1.4 million fewer people had jobs. Mazibuko said this could not be called a success.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said Zuma’s address was a “brag speech”, with little focus on the future.

“It was a brag speech focused on the elections. I would have liked to hear more about the future,” he said.

He welcomed Zuma’s announcement of a central tender board to tackle corruption, but was worried this was motivated by the wish to woo voters ahead of the general elections in May.

“If it’s such a good country, why are all the municipalities burning?” Mulder asked.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Zuma had misled the public. He said Zuma had painted a rosy picture of the country, but this was contrary to what was actually seen. Holomisa said Zuma had no plans to create the number of jobs mentioned in his address.

“This is an old story, we have heard this noise before,” he told reporters.

In contrast, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe only had praise for the president. He said the address had shown the coherence of the government’s work in the past five years.

Mantashe said one of the most important topics Zuma touched on was violent protests.

“Violence is not acceptable. It is not acceptable that people die at the hands of the police. It is a fundamental right to protest, but it must not lead to death,” he said.

DA leader Helen Zille said Zuma had not done enough to address job shortages. She suggested that when it came to corruption, Zuma needed to “put his money where his mouth is”.

“[Zuma] refuses to go to court to answer his own charges,” Zille said.

Speaking after Zuma’s address, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said it was “delusional” to tell people about the extended public works programme which would create six million job opportunities.

The programme created temporary jobs, but the country needed sustainable jobs, he said.

» Read the full speech here.

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