President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Preview comments on today’s State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma indicated there was less expectation of substance than of electioneering as few milestones have been reached among the promises made in last year’s speech.

Commentators argued that the president, anticipating victory at the polls in May, was likely to use the next State of the Nation Address to lay a foundation for his second term, implying that today’s speech would most likely try a hard sell to voters about achievements made by the government this far.

According to a survey by research company Ipsos, almost half of South Africans feel the government has been woefully inadequate in most policy areas, save for building houses and delivery of basic services such as water and electricity. There was more dissatisfaction with progress on managing the economy, schooling, welfare and dealing with HIV/Aids.

Ipsos, which conducted the study among 3 564 adults in November, said 48 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the path the country was taking, up from 29 percent in 2009, the year of the last vote. There were concerns about the cost of living and the ability to encourage international investment.

The Solidarity Research Institute said the State of the Nation Address could not be viewed in isolation from its financial consequences.

“It is a fact that South African taxpayers are under severe pressure. The more President Zuma promises to do and spend, the greater the pressure will be on the taxpayer – a pressure that will also result in increases in government debt. “

The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), while acknowledging progress in education, health, HIV/Aids, economic growth, employment creation, income distribution, rural development, housing, access to water, sanitation and electricity, said the federation decried a lack of progress in the economic upliftment of townships.

“It is critical for the country to create opportunities by increasing exports, developing a more competitive infrastructure, reducing the cost of living for low-income and working people, supporting small businesses and creating a labour market that is more responsive to new economic opportunities,” Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said. - Business Report