President Jacob Zuma (centre rear) and other dignitaries observe a guard of honour at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday.

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address covered a wide variety of social issues, but was scant on detail, a sociologist said on Thursday evening.

“The president covered a wide range of ground, but perhaps he lost a bit of focus,” said Professor Roger Southall of the University of the Witwatersrand's sociology department.

He said Zuma mentioned the importance of small business and government providing support for such entities, but gave “absolutely no details” of how this might take place.

Southall said Zuma's establishment of a Presidential Remuneration Commission to review the conditions of service for public servants was of interest.

Zuma said education needed to be an essential service, but this would not deprive teachers of their right to strike.

Southall said further details of the implications of this were needed.

He said Zuma's remarks that the government would abandon the “willing-buyer, willing-seller” principle would be welcomed by many.

“I think quite a lot will be made of the move towards just and equitable compensation for land, in line with the Constitution.”

What was meant by “just and equitable compensation” had to be seen, Southall said.

“Analysts say the 'willing-buyer, willing-seller' principle has not been a particular obstacle.

“There has been plenty of land up for sale, but government has been slow to respond to this.”

He acknowledged that it was a “tough job” to resolve uncertainty about the land issue.

Southall said it was promising that Zuma had spoken about renewable energy, but said that more money should be allocated to realising green initiatives.

“The amount of money spent on renewable energy (R47-billion) when put against infrastructure spending (R860-billion) is rather small, and I think that is an area of government activity which really needs more attention.”

Southall said Zuma's attention on the issue of corruption was apt, because corruption “is really the Achilles' heel of this government”. - Sapa