Zuma urged to be bold, up his game

2012-02-08 23:18

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma has been urged to be bold, in what will be his third State of the Nation address on Thursday.

He is expected to focus his speech on matters financial, but DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has asked him to steer clear of "another bureaucratic check-list of targets and promises".

Given the president's past State of the Nation speeches, its not a stage that he occupies with ease and with two years left of his term there are expectations that he should up his game.

Which is why the president should ditch the five issues that more than likely will dominate his address, and focus instead on those that require leadership.

So skip the following, commentators have urged the president:

• The Anc's centenary:

Everybody knows about it, and after his drawn-out speech in Bloemfontein everybody knows Zuma’s opinion about it. We want to hear your counsel as statesman, Mr President, not as party politician. Move on.

• SA's leadership role in Africa:

It's a myth. The fact of the matter is that they don't like us, as Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's failed campaign for the African Union Commission presidency showed. Rather, carefully examine the reasons for this.

• Small business:

Since 2001 every state of the nation address has seen an undertaking to "make it easier for small business to do business". Announce genuine measures, or leave it alone.

• Corruption:

 Undertakings to eradicate corruption, without saying exactly how. Be specific or leave it alone.

• Vagueness:

Announcements with the promise that ministers will provide the details in their budget speeches. It never happens. Everyone now knows it’s an evasion mechanism. Provide the details - if they do, in fact, exist - yourself, sir.

This last point is one of the core problems of the Zuma presidency, say commentators.

One doesn’t know what the president is thinking and whether he as a leader has his own preferences. He may be a great reconciler, but is not a decision-maker. As a leader he has to make decisions. He does not have to wait for everyone’s input, indaba-style, before summarising a consensus.

Focus rather on a few genuine concerns and make your views clear, Mr President.

The real issues

These are the real issues that require leadership and which should be the focus of your speech:

• Job creation:

Rather than make loose promises about 500 000 jobs, Zuma could briefly tell us why nothing has come of those promises and what has changed since then.

The government's flagship policy, the "new economic growth path", depends on job creation, but does not explain how the tension between the concept of "decent work" (roughly that each position should have perks) and the cost of employment will be tackled.

Unemployment figures cannot improve if the cost of employment is not lowered and labour laws made more supple. At the same time, exploitation of the defenceless poor must be combated.

Zuma should be more definite about this.

• Nationalisation:

The gold price remains steady at about $1 700 (R12 800) an ounce, but there is precious little capital investment in the country’s gold mines, potentially a magnet for direct foreign investment and job creation.

The reason is the loose talk about nationalisation, supertax and other ideas that investors will perceive as punitive measures.

It is as though the ANC thinks people are too stupid to see the contradiction between ministers speaking against nationalisation on one hand and ANC hotheads speaking approvingly about it when addressing cheering ANC crowds.

Well, people are not that stupid, and neither, certainly, are investors.

As long as the perception exists that only a few cool heads in the cabinet stand between South Africa’s prosperity and populist disaster, the country will not attract comprehensive investment. The president would do well to advance a reasoned standpoint with a strong statement of his own position, and stop prevaricating.

• Education:

The national development plan drawn up by a team under Trevor Manuel was adopted by the ANC’s national executive committee as a policy framework guideline.

It contains two easily implementable and sensible proposals that can be put into immediate effect if Zuma would be man enough to withstand strong pressure from a key partner.

The proposals are that teachers should regularly be tested on the subjects they teach, and that school principals should be held accountable for their schools’ results, with due account being taken of a school’s location and the socio-economic challenges it faces.

These are naturally good ideas, and naturally the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union will resist them because, in the context of the ANC leadership struggle, it is pro-Zuma.

Will Zuma place quality education above political interest? Or will he ignore it, as one has become accustomed to expect?

• Land reform and food security

This is the part of the government’s policy that works least best. It is in fact a total failure, mainly because of the state's own bungling and corruption.

There is an inherent contradiction in government policy, namely the tension between land reform and food production.

Because the government follows a communal model, rather than a market-oriented production model, for the redistribution of land, the policy cannot work anyway, even if bungling and corruption were completely eradicated.

Moreover, the time really has come for the ANC to define what it means by the ideal that 30% of arable land should be owned by black people.

Does this include state-owned land, municipal land, urban land, Ingonyama Trust land and commercially purchased farm land?

Where is the 30% located? Failing specifics, it becomes as difficult to nail down as the Conservative Party’s "volkstaat" idea back in the day - pure illusion. When will the land audit be completed?

These are key questions around which the ANC keeps stirring up ill feelings.

Furthermore, next year will mark a hundred years since the introduction of the terrible Native Land Act.

Will Zuma use the opportunity to remove the beam from his own government’s eye, blame the past, or ignore the crisis with vague references? One’s money is on the third option, but one hopes for the first.

• Corruption an tenders:

Rather than the usual vague promises, the president could consider three possible policy changes.

The first, contained in the national development plan, is that public servants may not have any additional income, or that it be strictly regulated.

The second is to declare every tender procedure open, as happens in Cape Town. Corruption is then inherently impossible.

The third is to continue disciplinary action when people resign from their posts, so that guilty parties will always pay.

• Constitutionality

Growing indications that the government sees the Constitution as a policy obstacle rather than as an ideal is a worrying thing.

Examples are the ANC government’s attacks on media freedom and the judiciary.

If the president appreciates the dangers, he will use this state of the nation address specifically to end the attacks on the media and the judiciary.

Should he fail to do that, then the belief that he, his party and his government are trying to bend the letter and spirit of the Constitution to the point of ignoring it, will gain more credibility.

  • bernpm - 2012-02-08 23:39

    We have reached the stage of..."whatever he says......." who cares! Sad but true!

      Eduard - 2012-02-09 07:00

      and the pain continues....yes...he has a silver tongue, but all is in vain, as he has no action or will behind all those words in getting SA back on track.

  • Max - 2012-02-08 23:58

    Lindiwe, you are asking a lot from this man, some of the words like "constitutionality" are really long words.

      Michael - 2012-02-09 08:52

      Margie - you are dissapointed in the wrong person! Why should she mention crime - has the honourable buffoon not been told enough times about the crime - how many more times must we spell it out?

  • Johan - 2012-02-09 00:01

    Please Zuma, please just don't talk about corruption. I don't want to hear anything about corruption coming from *you*, because that would just be insulting.

  • Kyle Olivier Beningfield - 2012-02-09 00:36

    Will the real President please stand up??? You begged, borrowed and what not to get into power. Its time you put your people (the residents of this beautiful country) first and not political affiliates. You have the power to be remembered either as a great leader, like Mr Mandela, or just another face in politics. Power is yours

  • mary.kircher - 2012-02-09 01:18

    Brilliant! All our hopes captured in this article - I wait with bated breath ............

      Scouter - 2012-02-09 02:00

      I'll put the paramedics on stand-by for you Mary - you'll be needing them.

      Dave - 2012-02-09 05:58

      The article is good and simply understandable but the ANC rip off dept. stand to loose too much and that will stiffle the contents of the speech, watch the Rand - Dollar rate for an indication on how other people throughout the world perceive the speech.

      StarStruck - 2012-02-09 07:57

      I agree Mary. I just hope some of these concerns hits home for the ANC.

      Shaun - 2012-02-09 09:42

      Hi Mary I agree but don't hold your breath Zuma and his cronies have done nothing of substance to date for SA, except help themselves

  • kznshark - 2012-02-09 02:26

    ...and the homeless? Will their needs be attended to during the speech? Regarding job ones created, or firing and replacing existing workforce members? As fire and replace is not creating.

      StarStruck - 2012-02-09 08:01

      Yes, the needs of the homeless is also very important but I don't know if you noticed that far more serious problems currently face all of us. If the plight was dedicated to the homeless then the rest of us would soon join them. Every problem in South Africa needs serious attention but some require immediate intervention.

  • Derk - 2012-02-09 04:32

    hell I would rather watch K-TV than watch the drivel Zoomhead will promise

  • brionyl.french - 2012-02-09 05:24

    no one cares what this man has to say, he is lying... we dont see any proof just hear about more criminals in government. If Zuma wants to gain respect he should fire all thats dirty from ANC from Government, he will stop marrying people, he will stop using tax payers money to pay for his life...sounda a lil Mugabe

  • Gugu Mchunu - 2012-02-09 05:49

    Msholozi we as a notion have powor to put him back as our president ,but he need to do something to our working places many government offices are in a bad situation nd its make working under a bad situatio like Hluhluwe Home Affairs we do deliver service to our people as expected but our office is very bad infact its a mass when its raining all water frm different parts of town go strait to our ,not talking abt routen furnisher some of employees were daignosed wth asmathic so we really need government intervantion thnk u Mr Zuma

  • Kim - 2012-02-09 05:59

    South Africans are sick of listening to fairy tale talk. Put measures into place and give yourselves time lines. Non functional departments and ministers then must be accountable for non performance.

  • spacepirate - 2012-02-09 06:07

    the anc never have and never will be able to rule a good rule there ideas were born through communism,the african culture is one of jealousy he zuma will never stand up against his corrupt brothers and sisters ,there have never been and never will there be a succesfull african coverment,so whatever mr president

  • David - 2012-02-09 06:12

    Most of the people don't understand democracy,you don't say what you want personally but what the people want so in this case the President will say what the ruling party want not him. -Another issue is when are we going to support this man so that we can build a better SA. - I thought the race issue is for the past but everyday I read IOL I can feel it especially by the comment about Mr President. -SA is not free until we (whites) are free mentally. - as whites let's agree that he is our president we like it or not let's respect him.

      Albert - 2012-02-09 07:03

      Go for it.You are all alone.

      Garth - 2012-02-09 07:31

      David, you definitely do not have an understanding of the word democracy. Do not confuse politicking with democracy. Democracy is the governance of a country `for the people, of the people, by the people'. Politicking is saying what people want to hear and the smooth changing of your tune to suit all the different groups. We do not live in a democratic country because nothing that the useless anc and their thieving president do is `for the people'. They are however very good at politicking - lies, falsehoods, promises and cover-ups are all good examples of successful politicking. So no, white man, you do not have my support.

      Johan - 2012-02-09 08:20

      What?!? This guy should be in jail. Along with his partner in crime, Shabir. As far as I am concerned, he is a criminal. I will never respect him, nor the ANC that made him "president".

  • Derk - 2012-02-09 06:36

    juat play last years State Of The Nation DVD because the same will be promised

  • pws69 - 2012-02-09 06:45

    SONA = fairytale

  • ian.rundle1 - 2012-02-09 06:53

    This is a well thought out article and if Zuma followed it - he may make an impression BUT we are getting tired of the endless waffle about jobs, crime, education, corruption without effective measures being taken to remedy the problems. The ANC have their heads too deep in the trough to give a damn about the "real" betterment of SA. It is a fact that much of the goodwill that existed at the time of Mandela has been lost. Now many of us are "anti" this government. I personally consider them an unmitigated disaster.

  • Tyrone - 2012-02-09 06:58

    Ok so who is ready for a lot of BS. I bet by the time he is done he wont even remember what the hell he said in the beginning. Contradictions, lets count how many there are in this speach.

  • Tulani - 2012-02-09 07:11

    addressing Millions of people is not a calling education is very important weather u r or not MR President.... reading what u wrote is different from reading what people wrote for u, i know u have advisers but first u need to live n breath what u talk about then it will happen and make sense even to you....unless u just passing time on the Nation.. and please the nation is tired of your empty promises... just wondering how do u do it wif such a number of wives u have wheras i cnt cope with one none the less al da best JZ.

  • eben.ferreira1 - 2012-02-09 07:26

    What he says does not matter. It is just utterances

  • Garth - 2012-02-09 07:34

    A good article - if only the useless, worthless anc would use it as a guideline for what we do want to hear. But that has never been much of a concern for those racist thieves - what the people want to hear.

  • melusi.mlangeni - 2012-02-09 07:34

    Zuma, we are praying for you. Just Talk about Pray & Hope. speak abt the dream you have that one day the country grow its resources & help the power

      Michael - 2012-02-09 08:48

      Help the power? - you mean Eishkom?

  • phumlanii - 2012-02-09 07:44

    I had high hopes when Mr. Zuma presided the S.A presidency. There were lot of speculations and during his initial take over that he's a wise man and moreover he opened a line where S.A citizens can directly deliver their grievances to him. I can't say the same thing now. I think the ANC is rotten to the core. I think Zuma wants to make the difference but it will be a contradictory to the ANC.

  • Vince.York - 2012-02-09 07:50

    JUST STEP DOWN - the quickest way to SA's salvation - OR face being thrown out more abruptly than the intelligent one, Mbeki.

  • Lwads - 2012-02-09 07:50

    Can someone, anyone send Zuma this article and just maybe he mention the real issues instead of Mumbling around making promises and coming up with stats!

      Michael - 2012-02-09 10:25

      Someone thought that Anybody would do this, but then Somebody didn't do anything because Nobody did it!

  • Bryden - 2012-02-09 08:01

    I personally hope that JZ will show the initiative and strength to do the right thing and set clear and measurable targets which are accompanied by some kind of plan. He needs to stand up and be accountable for his actions (or lack thereof) and i think that tonight is the perfect time for him to stop "flapping his mouth" for the sake of it and instead show he is a man of action...

  • Dennis - 2012-02-09 08:32

    Same re hashed crap over and over read in a very monotone, boring and uninspiring manner by the worst person in charge we have ever had !!

  • Ryan - 2012-02-09 08:43

    I think he should announce real change something that will benefit the entire country in an immediate and lasting manner. ZUMA: Citizens of South Africa we the Government have realised our complete and utter failing since the beginning. Therefore I now announce as a small token of our shame,We the ANC parliament will be committing MASS SUICIDE IN 2 MIN on national TV GOODBYE!

  • Harry - 2012-02-09 08:47

    Mr President, South Africans have spoken during local Government elections. One thing first, Job Creation (decent ones) and others key issues will follow, be bold and focus on the disadvantaged poor (Africans) as white people had their full cake during Apartheid, hence we still have two economies in one country. South Africans love U,JZ.

      Michael - 2012-02-09 09:48

      Yes, S.Africans did speak in local elections - that's why the ANCircus lost so many votes to the opposition! Hairy - get your blinkers off - Zoo-ma is not the hero you make out to be. As far as the job creation you mention - the jerk did promise 5mil in 10yrs - at the rate we're breading and at the state of the economy we're going in reverse!

  • Michael - 2012-02-09 08:47

    Zoo-ma wanted (promised) to create 5mil jobs in 10 years. At this moment in time he is showing a loss in job creation - because of these (him and his cronies) incompetent buffoons! (I did say buffoons!)

  • Jacques Buckle - 2012-02-09 08:48

    i dont think Zuma can get any bolder than this

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-02-09 09:07

    To ask Zuma to up his game is like asking Malema to go do a BSc majoring in Maths. Some things are just not possible...

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