Sona 2015: What Zuma did and didn't say

EWN highlights the top 20 themes and a few of the 'elephants in the room' the president failed to mention.

President Jacob Zuma delivering his 2015 State of the Nation Address. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) went ahead despite the hour-long showdown ahead of his speech in Parliament on Thursday night.

As many predicted, he didn't dive into delicate issues such as e-tolls, Nkandla, the South African government student loan and bursary scheme (NSFAS) and the South African Post Office.

What was even more shocking is the fact that he was completely undeterred by the EFF's interruptions and ejection and the DA walking out of the highly-anticipated Sona.

Here's some of the topics the president did address:

* Despite the fact that employment numbers were up, our economy needs a major push forward. The nine-point plan to ignite growth and create jobs include:

  • Resolving the energy challenge;

  • Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain;

  • Advancing beneficiation or adding value to our mineral wealth;

  • More effective implementation of a higher impact Industrial Policy Action Plan;

  • Encouraging private sector investment;

  • Moderating workplace conflict;

  • Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, township and rural enterprises;

  • State reform and boosting the role of state owned companies, ICT infrastructure or broadband roll out, water, sanitation and transport infrastructure; and

  • Operation Phakisa aimed at growing the ocean economy and other sectors.

* We are a democratic state and recognise the community's right to protest. We however appeal that these protests should be within the ambit of the law and must be peaceful as stated in the Constitution.

* In terms of our new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership will be set at a maximum of 12,000 hectares. Foreign nationals will not be allowed to own land in South Africa but will be eligible for long term lease. In this regard, the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill will be submitted to Parliament this year.

* Water is a critical resource for economic growth and a better life. Several projects aimed at providing water for industrial and household use are in the implementation or planning phases around the country. Progress is being made to improve the water supply to areas that had been affected by shortages. Let me Honourable Speaker and Chairperson urge all in the country to conserve water. Every drop counts. The country loses seven billion rand a year to water losses. To mitigate this challenge, Government through the Department of Water and Sanitation will train fifteen thousand artisans or plumbers who will fix leaking taps in their local communities.

* To further improve access to identity documents, citizens will from this year be able to apply for the new Smart ID Card at their local bank due to partnership between the Department of Home Affairs and some banks in the country.

* The fight against corruption continues to be taken forward by the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee. Government has in place seven anti-corruption institutions and seventeen pieces of legislation which are intended to combat corruption. This demonstrates a concerted effort by government to break the back of this scourge in the country. To prevent corruption and promote ethical governance, in December I signed into law the Public Administration and Management Act which amongst others prohibits public servants from doing business with the State.

* Agriculture is a catalyst for growth and food security. We are working with the private sector to develop an Agricultural Policy Action Plan which will bring one million hectares of under-utilised land into full production over the next three years.

* We will also prioritise the review of visa regulations to strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism.

* We have launched the Back to Basics programme to promote good governance and effective administration through cutting wastage, spending public funds prudently, hiring competent staff, and ensure transparency and accountability in municipalities.

* In the June 2014 Sona, I spoke about the need to stabilise the mining sector and to promote a stable labour environment. The implementation of a number of programmes under the Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry, has caused relative stability and optimism in the mining sector, which is the backbone of our economy. Mine Crime Combating Forums have been established in the North West, Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Gauteng provinces.

* We will also continue to promote opportunities for the youth. The National Youth Development Agency has disbursed R25 million to 765 youth-owned micro enterprises in the last financial year nationally. The Agency has also partnered with the IDC and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency in a three-way partnership that has resulted in a R2.7 billion fund for young people.

* The year 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of broadband roll out. Government has also decided to designate Telkom as the lead agency to assist with broadband roll out.

* The infrastructure programme continues to expand transport networks and to improve roads, which augurs well for economic growth. The Department of Transport will spend about nine billion rand on the Provincial Roads Maintenance Grant or the Sihamba Sonke Programme and R11 billion on upgrading and maintaining roads which are not tolled.

* Over R6 billion will be spent in 13 cities on planning, building and operating integrated public transport networks during this financial year.

* We will also continue to improve the infrastructure in schools and higher education institutions to create a conducive environment for learning and teaching. Through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative which is part of the national infrastructure plan, 92 new schools have been completed to date and 108 are under construction. Three hundred and forty two schools have received water for the first time. Three hundred and fifty one schools have received decent sanitation while 288 have been connected to electricity.

* Government has identified 16 sites for the construction of 12 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training College campuses and the refurbishment of two existing campuses.Work is also continuing to establish the three brand new universities, Sol Plaatjie in the Northern Cape, the University of Mpumalanga and the Sefako Makgatho Allied and Health Sciences University.

* This year, we are going to launch a massive program to turn the tide against tuberculosis (TB), with a special focus on three communities, offenders at Correctional Services facilities, mineworkers and communities in mining towns. In fighting the scourge of HIV and AIDS, the state-owned pharmaceutical company, Ketlaphela, has been established and will participate in the supply of anti-retrovirals to the Department of Health.

* We have to continue working harder together to fight crime and to create safer communities. We are making progress in fighting crimes against women and children. The SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit has secured 659 life sentences against perpetrators of crimes against women and children.

* Cabinet has adopted vigorous and integrated interventions to combat the vicious rhino poaching in the country. The interventions include continuous joint operations with key neighbouring countries, improved intelligence gathering as well as enhancing protection in parks and provincial reserves where rhino are present. Government has also made substantial progress in establishing a Border Management Agency, to manage all ports of entry and improve security.