Three things that matter but might not feature in the SONA

2015-02-09 23:01

The State of the Nation Address is two days away and President Jacob Zuma will once again grace our television screens as millions of South Africans wait to hear which direction the Captain our not-so-smooth sailing ship aims to steer us this year. It must be noted though, that for the first time since he took oath, he too goes to Parliament with an expectation, that is, to be allowed the opportunity to read through his entire speech without disruptions (a privilege he might not enjoy this year).

With the Economic Freedom Fighters having promised the nation a theatrical performance of its own, for Zuma’s sake and more importantly the integrity of Parliament, we can only hope that things do not get any worse as that would mark out a negative tipping point in South African politics. That said, and with all the mediocrity and idiocy aside, socio-economic challenges are always changing in this country and for this, I fear that in light of the recent developments the President might deliberately or unconsciously leave out some of the three critical issues he needs to touch on in his address.

Mining conditions in South Africa

By now, it is public knowledge that what took place in Marikana in August of 2012 was a tipping point in the industry. The brutal murder of over 30 workers gave us a binocular-view of the conditions under which mine workers live and work. For a while, it affected the demeanor of the government a little negatively and for the following years we heard endlessly about how government would look into regulating the industry, increase mining taxes and work tirelessly to improve the lives of those living in mining areas. I would like to hear President Zuma give the nation a comprehensive account of what government has done/achieved with regard to the issue in question, and desirably, use Marikana as his point of reference.


In light of the recent developments where there have been cases of racial segregation and a sexual assault on a black pupil at Curro Private School and the Jan Kempdorp High School respectively, predictably, Zuma will condemn the acts and move on to the next issue (probably load-shedding). Racism in this country oozes like sweat out of our bodies, however, year-in and year-out we never hear the President say firmly and with a commanding voice that there is no longer room for racism in this country. His tone is usually so unconvincing that the atmosphere is generally dominated by the views of those in denial and in whose eyes incidents of this nature occur with the perpetrator being white and the victim ‘coincidentally’ being black or vis-à-vis . President Zuma needs to make his voice louder and clearer!

 Access to tertiary institutions

This being the most critical of all, although Zuma will certainly highlight and possibly speak at length about the ongoing struggle by government to come up with sufficient funds to inject into the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), he will not be open about the fact that one of the primary contributing factors to the problem in question is the constant increase of tuition fees by institutions of higher learning, a challenge the South African Students’ Congress (SASCO) has taken by its stride and is grappling with. Until government is prepared to sacrifice its seemingly romantic relationship with institutions higher of learning, many students will continue to be excluded, adding to the high numbers of unemployed youth.

Nevertheless, as President Zuma sells us new hopes on Thursday, my only wish is that he remembers that continuation is just as important as the new promises he will be making. That the electricity crisis, recent service delivery protests and the looting spree in Soweto are just but an addition to many existing socio-economic problems that are yet to be addressed.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.