Cape Town - Expectations from President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address on Thursday range from little other than electioneering to announcements of concrete steps for job creation and infrastructure delivery, and decisive pronouncements on service delivery protests and policing.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the party expected a push to please key ANC constituencies, such as rural communities and leaders, before the May 7 elections.
“The ANC is going to hand out election promises… I have no doubt President Jacob Zuma has promises regarding the six million job opportunities,” Mazibuko said, accusing the president of a failure in leadership over the past five years.
IFP chief whip Koos van der Merwe said “decisive and immediate action” was expected over unemployment, education, infrastructure development and service delivery. “Our people cannot continually resort to protesting, while the government ignores them and their needs,” he said, adding that Zuma’s “poor leadership has led to a myriad undesirable effects”.
For United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, the president needed to address the “civil disobedience” relating to service delivery protests, not with plans, but with concrete action. “Other than the cut-and-paste, which will be a reflection of annual reports, he should tell us what steps he has taken regarding civil disobedience… not what he will take. He has been in office for over four years, but we’ve seen no solution.”
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said: “The criticism of voters is that the president keeps quiet while the country is experiencing numerous serious crises. The State of the Nation address is an opportunity for him to react to these crises.”
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the issue for everyone was growing the economy. “It will be important on the president’s list: growing the economy to create jobs for out-of-work people and to skill our young people for the job market.”
More needed to be done to build on improvements in education. In the field of health, national health insurance and cheaper medicines were important.
For Cosatu, concrete announcements were needed to create “decent, sustainable jobs” and transformative economic policy, such as industrial and infrastructure development.
Spokesman Patrick Craven said: “Our main hope will be that there will be progress on economic transformation policies and a final commitment to accelerate these.”
Better public transport and an increase in social grants in line with inflation were also on Cosatu’s wish list.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said steps to change the economic direction fundamentally were required. “There is only one way to create the number of jobs that are needed in South Africa… that is to harness the profits of the mining and financial sectors to use them to build the manufacturing industry.”
Instead of implementing the employment tax incentive, effectively the youth wage subsidy, a focus on productive economic sectors was needed, Jim said. Also, the government should provide free tertiary education, build stronger links between industry and further education and training colleges, and use infrastructure projects to train youths.
Numsa is to launch a national strike on Budget Day.