Parliament, Cape Town -The South African people have lost confidence in President Jacob Zuma and his state-of-the-nation address showed why, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Tuesday.
This had been an opportunity for Zuma to show leadership after receiving a new mandate from his party at Mangaung, she told the National Assembly during debate on Zuma's address.
“But this address not only failed to inspire South Africa, it was devoid of new ideas and vision,” she said.
The nation had expectantly waited for Zuma to speak directly about how his government would implement the National Development Plan (NDP).
“We all support the NDP, and the address should have been a turning point for a country which feels a lack of confidence in the national government, but instead this was the offering of a presidency founded on compromise; one built entirely upon mediating the bitter factions that threaten to tear the governing alliance apart,” Mazibuko said.
Zuma's speech had failed, among other things, to provide solutions to the unemployment crisis.
“The president says he is committed to job creation, but let's look at what he actually does about job creation,” she said.
He had promised five million new jobs by 2020, but unemployment had risen again during his third year in office. The economy had lost half a million jobs since he assumed the presidency.
“Has the president ever reflected on what it must feel like to be a young person without a job in South Africa today?” Mazibuko asked.
“Does he feel for the five million South Africans under the age of 34 who are unable to find work, because the speech he gave on Thursday didn't sound like he does,” she said.
Mazibuko said the worst betrayal of all was Zuma's abandonment of the youth wage subsidy. This would benefit hundreds of thousands of young people by absorbing them into the formal economy and providing them with real work opportunities.
By contrast, the so-called “youth accord” seemed nothing more than a conjurer's trick to divert attention from the fact that government had allowed the Congress of SA Trade Unions to water down the youth wage subsidy policy.
South Africa had one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world, and the ideas in this youth accord were a weak response to a huge problem.
“The president also claimed to have brought policy certainty to the mining industry, but then he proceeded to raise uncertainty with the threat to increase mining taxes.”
Zuma seemed to believe investors would be forced to come to South Africa, because it had such vast mineral wealth, but if conditions were not right they would find alternative investment destinations.
“If he continues down this path, the president will be remembered for standing by as our mining industry was decimated, in a country which enjoys the greatest mineral endowment in the world.”
Zuma's failure to provide economic leadership was mirrored by his failure to fix education.
“Last year, he claimed that 'intensive focus is paying off', but our numeracy and literacy rates are second from last in 144 internationally ranked countries.”
She claimed Zuma was out of touch. The NDP provided clear solutions to fix the crisis in education, but he ignored them.
On corruption, Mazibuko said Zuma had been expected to appoint a head of the Special Investigating Unit - a post which had been vacant for more than a year.
“But he did not, perhaps because he knows that the SIU will look into his actions in the same way that it must those of any public figure, regardless of their office.
“Most presidents' characters are revealed over time. This president was compromised from the beginning because there were simply too many unanswered questions about his actions before he assumed high office.
“South Africa is a great country being let down by a weak president. He is the wrong man for these times,” Mazibuko said. - Sapaa