Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma is set to deliver his state-of-the-nation (Sona) address this year on Valentine's Day, but the Democratic Alliance made it clear on Wednesday they are not planning to send him any roses.
Speaking from a statement titled “Zuma's Sona Record: Big Ideas, Little Detail, No Action”, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko told reporters in Cape Town that Zuma's presidency had “been characterised by inaction, political expediency, and scandal”.
He had “kow-towed” to the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in an effort to get himself re-elected as African National Congress president, and had spent last year focused on “factionalism, cronyism, and ANC machinations”.
Responding to a question on whether she though 2013 might be better, she said Zuma appeared more concerned with “staying at the top of the pile” in the ruling party than with running the country.
“As President Zuma delivers his fourth state-of-the-nation address 1/8on Thursday 3/8, many South Africans have little confidence in his ability to deliver on what he promises,” Mazibuko said.
Most of the key pledges he made last year “barely got off the ground, or have not been given effect at all”.
Turning to the economy, she said Zuma's 2012 plan to address South Africa's infrastructure backlog through 18 major projects had been “slow off the ground”, with little progress.
His government's policies, the ruling party's “aggressive rhetoric”, and Cosatu's “bullying”, had also scared off investment in the country's mining sector.
“The mining sector is now shedding jobs and failing to attract investment,” Mazibuko said.
Party colleague and caucus chairman Wilmot James said Zuma's call last year for school teachers to be “in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day” remained a pipe-dream.
“He continues to allow himself to be bullied by Sadtu (the SA Democratic Teachers' Union),” he said.
The recent backing down by government on declaring teaching an essential service was a case in point.
On combating corruption, DA Chief Whip Watty Watson said Zuma's government had failed to regulate the business interests of state employees.
“The draft public sector integrity framework, apparently before Cabinet, has not been adopted, while Chancellor House continues to be allowed to tender for big contracts, despite it being an investment arm of the ANC,” he said.
The DA called on Zuma, in his address on Thursday, to show leadership, “put South Africa's interests ahead of his political career”, and provide clear deadlines for implementation of promises made.
“To put South Africa back on the track to economic growth, job creation, and optimism, he must tackle the major challenges of unemployment, crime, a failing education system, corruption, as well as become the key defender of the Constitution.”
But Mazibuko said Zuma's record spoke for itself.
“This isn't a president of action and delivery. It is a presidency more concerned with political game-playing and maintaining the support of 4000 ANC delegates,” she said.
Zuma is set to deliver his state-of-the-nation address from 7pm on Thursday. - Sapa