Time to stand and deliver

2014-05-25 15:00

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President Jacob Zuma began his second term with a stern warning that he will fire “lazy people” in his government and replace them with “hard workers”.

Zuma, who was inaugurated for his second term at the Union Buildings in Pretoria yesterday, will today announce a revamped Cabinet team that will help him deliver the ambitious promises that he and the ANC made in its election manifesto and in his inauguration speech.

The new Cabinet is likely to be leaner. The most widely anticipated announcement will be around who will fill the new small business government department and what will happen to former National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu and the rehabilitated former Thabo Mbeki ally, Thoko Didiza.

There is also speculation that Zuma will use his constitutional prerogative of appointing two ministers from outside Parliament to bring in former Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

The ambitious election promises included the creation of 6?million jobs, universal access to water and sanitation, 1?million “housing opportunities” and the connection of 1.6?million households to the power grid over the next five years.

After delivering a largely flat speech to about 5?000 VIPs gathered at the Union Buildings Amphitheatre, Zuma ramped up the rhetoric when he addressed about 20?000 people on the lawns of the Union Buildings.

Speaking in isiZulu, Zuma told the crowd they should not be surprised when he took tough decisions in government to speed up delivery.

“We are not going to be afraid of anyone or ashamed. We will do what we promised to do when you voted [for us],” he said.

But as he begins his second term, the ghost of his first five years in office will immediately return to haunt him.

The case of the mysterious “spy tapes” which he used to get off the corruption charges will return to court soon while opposition parties have vowed to get the Nkandla matter back on the agenda as soon as Parliament resumes in the next few weeks.

In a speech dominated by socioeconomic issues, Zuma yesterday reiterated that the National Development Plan would be the road map to 2030.

“Economic transformation will take centre stage during this new term of government as we put the economy on an inclusive growth plan,” he said.

Zuma also pledged to continue with the major infrastructure projects that were started in his first term.

“We will continue to build schools, railways, ports, universities, clinics, colleges, power stations, broadband, roads and more infrastructure around the country. This programme will continue to be the flagship of government.

“The end result of all these transformative economic programmes is a growing inclusive economy which creates jobs and provides opportunities for all, especially the youth,” he said.

According to him, state enterprises and developmental finance institutions would “become engines of development” in promoting “inclusive economic growth”. He added there would be a “strengthening and expanding the role of the state in the economy”.

Zuma warned that to fulfil its ambitious objective, the “performance of the state will need to improve”.

He said: “Key targets in this regard will be to eradicate corruption and inefficiency in the public service.”

His government would promote productivity “and ensure much tighter accountability”. Zuma added there would be “firm consequences where there is a failure to deliver services to our people”.

But a government adviser cautioned against the unrealistic raising of expectations about creating 6?million jobs. “When we go to local government elections in 2016, we should have created 2.3?million by then in terms of our targets. Is that possible? Where are they going to come from? They should be coming from transport, energy and Public Works, but it’s not clear how,” said the adviser.

ANC sources this week said Gauteng would increasingly take a central role in helping government meet its objectives.

The ANC national body and provincial government have not seen eye to eye in the past few years, but new Premier David Makhura’s position has become central to the national government’s delivery machine.

Speaking to City Press just before he was appointed as premier, Makhura said the ANC had specific plans on job creation. These include an injection of R300?billion into public transport infrastructure that covers the roll-out of trains and buses being manufactured in Gauteng.

He said the public transport revitalisation could create a new economy and new cities.

“When we talk about jobs?...?we are intervening on the automotive cluster and we will increase the number of jobs to 300?000.

“This is what we are doing, working with big business there. We are attracting big investors, Ford is expanding, BMW is expanding?...”

He said there were “interesting ideas” about building a “smart city” in the Nasrec district and investment in the pharmaceutical industry hub in Midrand.

Meanwhile, ANC-aligned businessmen in KwaZulu-Natal are seeking a “solution” to the Nkandla saga to free up Zuma to “focus on delivery”.

A senior ANC source in KwaZulu-Natal said it was likely the “solution” involved the amounts overcharged by contractors on the R246?million upgrades to his residence being “repaid” by one or more of Zuma’s backers.

“The [Special Investigating Unit] is talking about recovering money overspent on the project and nailing officials. If the money can’t come from the contractors, it will have to come from somewhere. The president can either finish his term quietly or retire after two years or so, with no threat of prosecution,” said the source.

A senior government source shared this view, saying, “we will deal with Nkandla”.

“The opposition tried to make as much out of it as they could, but it wasn’t enough. We will put it to rest.

“The focus is now on building the economy and dealing with service delivery issues and preparing for 2016 and 2019 [elections],” said the source.

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