AfriForum not reassured by Zuma’s address

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Reuters

President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday evening.

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address contained little which would reassure South Africans about crucial issues, AfriForum said on Friday night.

“Although he mentioned most of these issues by name, AfriForum is of the opinion that the speech did little to reassure the audience that these issues would be addressed effectively,” its deputy CEO Alana Bailey said in a statement.

On education matters, Zuma seemed to hold teachers' right to strike above such questions as whether schools would receive textbooks for the year.

Another important question was and whether the annual national assessments and matric results of 2012 provided a reliable indication of the state of education.

“More so in the case of South Africa, where approximately a third of the population is under the age of 15,” said Bailey.

On the issue of crime, Bailey said Zuma attributed reduced crime statistics to improvements in the South African Police Service, but failed to acknowledge the roles of private security companies and community safety initiatives.

“While the country needs three private security people for every member of the police to achieve such a minuscule decrease in crime percentages, there is no reason for self-congratulation.”

In order for the cycle of corruption to be broken, convicted officials enjoying political favour should not be redeployed in other government or semi-government institutions.

“Perpetrators have to be held accountable and will have to forfeit the right to certain appointments after having been found guilty,” Bailey said.

She said Zuma's comments about addressing unemployment were laudable, but that the private sector needed to be stimulated to create more jobs.

“It would have been much more fitting to investigate ways in which public spending can become more efficient and how a sustainable tax basis can be created that would stimulate the growth of the private sector maximally.”

AfriForum found Zuma's stance on land reform particularly disconcerting.

Zuma said the government would drop the “willing-buyer, willing seller” principle, which forced the state to pay more for land, in favour of the “just and equitable principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution”.

“No mention is made of the fact that this lack of progress is due to the state's maladministration,” Bailey said.

“Thus, the dangerous perception is created that the slow pace of reform is due to the unwilling, greedy nature of landowners.”

In this regard, Zuma had done little to reassure South Africans and foreign investors about the future of private property rights, which was essential for a successful economy.

Rather, the State of the Nation address emphasised the importance of civil society's role in resolving South Africa's problems. - Sapa


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