Ministers laud Zuma’s speech

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's cabinet members lauded his "fair" and "balanced" State of the Nation address on Thursday.

Zuma's focus on the country's economy was a highlight for many ministers.

"I think a lot of the speech spoke about the economy... issues of infrastructure," said Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

"Yes it was a very economic-laden speech and I think he did that because our times require that we focus on the economy."

‘All major priorities covered’

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said Zuma's speech was very well delivered.

"He covered all the major priorities with this administration but I think he showed that in the context of very acute challenges, we've made some progress," Davies said.

"I think that's a right kind of tone that needs to be adopted. I think that quite often we just focus on what remains to be done and not on what's been achieved."

Despite the numerous violent service delivery protests plaguing the country, ministers in the security cluster were upbeat about Zuma's stance on the issue.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said he got a very clear message from Zuma on the way forward.

"The challenge is to ensure that ordinary South Africans have access to justice and for us to uphold the rule of law," Radebe said.

Pride in armed forces

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the country should be proud of the country's armed forces.

"Certainly if the country was not safe, if the defence of this country was not strong, you would not have the kind of economic stability, development and prosperity we have in South Africa," she said.

She beamed with pride when describing how the opening of Parliament would not have been possible without the participation of the army, navy and air force in the ceremonial part of the day.

"I was very excited, except at one point I felt sorry for them because they walked for about 45 minutes and they were standing there for an hour and a half," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

"It's black and white together and for me defence epitomises that which we are struggling for - a united democratic, non-sexist South Africa."

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said he was excited and looking forward to the next five years.

"Look, I think the message was loud and clear. We've got a good story to tell, we've made massive achievements, especially in the way of the last five years.

"We've driven up infrastructure investments, which has been driven really on the back of capital investments by state-owned companies."

No mention of e-tolls

He said state-owned companies were playing an increasing role in the economy and driving industrialisation, skills development, and job creation.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters was pleased that Zuma had highlighted the progress of integrated public transport.

"In 2009, President Zuma mentioned that in five years, we are going to be investing in Cape Town, in Port Elizabeth, in Johannesburg. But today I can tell you that we have gone beyond that target, in Rustenburg, in Polokwane, in Msunduzi, many others."

She was asked why Zuma did not mention the controversial e-tolling system in Gauteng.

"The president cannot repeat the e-tolls. He spoke about it last year and we are saying he spoke about the roads infrastructure as a whole."
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