What Zuma won't talk about in his SONA

Cape Town - South Africa's dire unemployment rate and stubborn economic growth will likely get little or no attention in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA), said Solidarity.

READ: Light at end of economic tunnel stays dim - business leaders

“Issues such as the unemployment rate, which is at its highest in more than a decade, and economic growth, which has nearly ground to a halt while rating agencies are waiting like wolves at the door, will receive little, if any, attention," said the union's political analyst Dr Eugene Brink.

"The worst is that those issues are largely caused by poor government policy and political risk – self-inflicted wounds."

Brink also expects Zuma to be in a defiant mood "in a bid to prove to followers that he and his faction are still in control". For Brink SONA could be summed up by the words “radical economic transformation”.

READ: SMEs should be at centre of Zuma's SONA - expert

“Although it is a sound goal to get more people to become active participants in the economy, the question is how that goal would be achieved, with early indications being that Zuma would rather placate his followers than focus on the real issues,” said Brink.

Tumisho Grater, Novare’s economic strategist, said the tone of the address will be important where issues regarding land redistribution, economic change, equality and inclusive growth are discussed.

He said Zuma will most probably recap the commitment in positioning the country as a destination for investments and the importance of economic transformation and black empowerment as a key part of all economic programmes.

READ: 10 things every South African must know about R20 wage deal

"The National Minimum Wage is also expected to be highlighted as an example of stakeholder collaboration and a commitment to closing the poverty gap," said Grater.

"President Zuma also spoke confidently of the strengthened relations between SA and the US and that any outstanding issues concerning African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were being attended to.

"Therefore, we will be looking out for any updates regarding the state of trade relations between South Africa and our trading partners, especially given Brexit and the uncertainty around President Trump’s policies."

READ: The golden theme of Zuma's SONA

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