Cape Town - Civil society partners and activists slammed President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address (SONA) on Thursday night, for falling short on detail at best, and failing the most vulnerable of citizens at worst.
Aninka Claassens, of the Centre for Law and Society at UCT, said Zuma’s boast of the restitution of nearly 5 000 farms to black South Africans was a “huge failure”.
“The restitution process is in a shambles. The target was for 30 percent of claims to be resolved, and not even 5 percent has been concluded,” Claassens said.
“The kind of key fault lines which divided South Africa during colonialism and apartheid were segregated land rights, and unequal citizenship.
“The transition to democracy in 1994 was premised on equal citizenship and redistribution. Yet, on the 20th anniversary of that transition, we have got a bill before Parliament, the Traditional Courts Bill, which proposes completely segregated legal regimes for the 17 million South Africans living in the former Bantustans.”
Claassens said last year, on the Centenary of the 1913 Land Act, the Department of Rural Development announced that ownership of land was “not appropriate for most South Africans, and that all land reform will deliver is conditional use rights”.
“It’s an incredibly shocking thing and an irony that they announced these proposals on land on the centenary, and that they’re trying to get the Traditional Courts Bill through (Parliament) exactly 20 years after Bantustans were reincorporated into South Africa, and South Africans were promised equal citizenship,” she said..
Thokozile Madonko, of the Budget Expenditure Monitory Forum, hosted by Section 27, said they hoped the State of the Nation would have added more clarity on the issue of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
“We also would have liked to have see a firmer commitment to when the White Paper on the NHI, or when the much-talked about Treasury paper about financing the NHI would be made public,” she said.
She said the monitoring forum recognised the achievements made with regard to HIV and Aids, but it was not the end of Aids, which many would like to believe.
“We need to ensure there is political will shown to ensure enough resources are being provided for those living with HIV and TB,” Madonko said.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the trade union federation welcomed any measures which would create jobs, but was disappointed the president had not spelled out proposals to implement the Youth Employment Accord.
He said the federation remained opposed to the Employment Tax Incentive and was “disappointed it’s still there”.