‘Zuma has failed exceptionally’

President Jacob Zuma has failed to lead South Africa, especially when it comes to the economy, says the DA.

“It’s clear ... in our view that President Jacob Zuma has failed exceptionally in his job,” Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters in Cape Town today.

He was presenting the party’s end-of-year “cabinet report card”, in which the DA scored Zuma one out of 10, and his Cabinet an overall four.

Maimane said the report card was based on a “comprehensive assessment” of Zuma’s performance – and that of his “bloated” Cabinet – since May, following the general election.

Among other things, Zuma had ducked any responsibility for the scandal around the spending on his private homestead at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, had failed to hold the state to account for the R30 billion lost to corruption each year and had failed to lead on South Africa’s most crucial issue – the economy.

DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters said next year would be make or break for Zuma.

“All in all, Cabinet is not performing well .... South Africa faces an unprecedented number of serious challenges and South Africans are struggling to make ends meet.

“President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address next year will be make or break for him.”

Unemployment now stood at 35%, Waters said.

Maimane said it was becoming harder and harder for South Africans to find work.

Responding to questions about Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s score of six out of 10, Maimane said he faced a tough job in that the state was incapable of efficiently running its own budget.

“He faces the tough job of having to say where are the areas he can cut [spending]; he [also] faces the prospect next year of a tax rate hike.”

Maimane said he thought Nene had handled the recent medium-term budget policy statement well.

“Next year, his job is going to be even tougher, in a world where South Africa is running out of money. And so what we’re seeing is that the deficits on the budget will soon be realised as cash deficits.”

This would result in the state’s capacity to deliver on its mandate becoming progressively hampered, particularly around issues of service delivery.

Responding to questions, Maimane said South Africans were starting to feel the pinch.

“If I was an investor ... I would say things have got worse, not better.

“That has to do with an increasing level of unemployment ... and service delivery protests. South Africans are starting to feel the pain.”

The government, as a whole, was leaderless.

“It’s been an ANC that has been focused on dealing with the scandals ... and the defence of President Jacob Zuma.”

Lowest-scoring ministers were Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, one out of 10; Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, one out of 10; and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, one out of 10.

The top-scoring Cabinet member was Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, who was awarded eight out 10.

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