Not everyone is happy with Zuma’s State of the Nation Address

There was mixed reaction to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address with some accusing him of...

President Jacob Zuma and his first wife Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo at the opening of Parliament on 10 February 2011. Picture: Aletta Gardner/Eyewitness News

There was mixed reaction to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address with some accusing him of being short on detail and others skeptical about how jobs will be created.

As expected, his focus was on job creation in 2011 promising to reduce unemployment with a R9billion jobs fund over the next three years. A further R10billion will be set aside over the next five years by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

While job creation was the main focus of the president’s speech, he also vowed to improve service delivery and to rid the country of corruption.

“A special anti-corruption unit has been established in the Department of Public Service and Administration to handle corruption related disciplinary cases involving public servants,” said Zuma.

The president also vowed to create jobs in the health sector and health facilities will be upgraded.

Zuma promised fresh approach to the fight against HIV and Aids adding efforts to curb the spread of the disease were still top of government’s mind.

“We have revitalised our programmes and promote various prevention measures including medical male circumcision, prevention of mother to child transmission and the promotion of HIV testing," said Zuma.

But, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said the epidemic will not be over until government, and Zuma, change their mindsets.

“Although we strongly support treatment and we strongly support testing, and so we recognise that multiple concurrent sexual partners is the real cause of the HIV crisis,” said Zille.

Zuma also promised his government will focus on job creation, root out corruption and improve access to higher education.

Political analyst Eusebius MacKaiser said Zuma’s 2011 speech was a great improvement on last year’s. He said it was however short on detail

“It is reasonable to defend the lack of detail by saying he is meant to give us the vision and not so much the detail but I think it is also important to wait and see whether we will get the details,” said MacKaiser.

Meanwhile, political analyst Harold Pakendorf believes Zuma’s State of the Nation Address lacked detail and substance.

He said while he was pleased with the jobs fund and an increase in social grant beneficiaries, the president should have explained in greater detail how he plans to eradicate unemployment.

“I was particularly disappointed with the lack of detail of where the promised five million jobs will come from,” he said.

However, Pakendorf said the R9 billion jobs fund is encouraging adding he was pleased that social grants will be given to more people.

“The social grant of the country will now be given to children under the age of 18 which means more people will get it,” he said.

WHAT POLITICIANS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE SPEECH

While many people were expecting a big job creation plan, Zuma focussed on tax breaks to help companies create jobs.

“The identification of the job drivers in terms of sectors shows a plan that is coming together,” said ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe.

But, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the president may have missed an opportunity to actually create more jobs.

“The private sector will not be able to help as long as labour laws are as rigid as they are,” said Buthelezi.

Zuma also spoke about education saying teachers must be in class for seven hours a day.