Zuma calls on ANC to discuss ways to expedite economic transformation

The president addressed thousands of supporters at the People’s Assembly immediately after his State of the Nation Address.

President Jacob Zuma dances for a crowd gathered on the Grand Parade after his speech at Sona2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma has called on African National Congress (ANC) structures to discuss how government can radically transform the economy, saying this will be the party’s focus this year.

Zuma addressed thousands of supporters at the People’s Assembly immediately after his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening, at the Grand Parade in the Cape Town CBD.

Zuma told supporters his address to the nation was Important and that everyone needed to listen to it, as he was reporting to the country of last year’s progress and this year’s plan.

He indirectly lashed out at the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for disrupting him, saying they don’t understand the seriousness of his address.

He told supporters the ANC’s priority for this year is clear.

“We need to change the economy of this country radically.”

He thanked ANC members for supporting him.

“Thank you very much for coming in your numbers, to be here to support the State of the Nation Address and I heard that you were here very early on the day.”

The president called on ANC structures to start discussions around how government can expedite land reform.

WATCH: Another chaotic Sona as the EFF is ejected from Parliament

#SONA2017: ZUMA FOCUSES ON WAGE TALKS, ESKOM & RADICAL TRANSFORMATION

In his Sona, Zuma concentrated on the economy, wage talks, Eskom and the national minimum wage, saying that there needs to be radical social economic transformation.

Zuma said there needs to be radical change.

“We need fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy.”

He said white households are earning far more than their black counterparts.

“In terms of the 2015-16 information submitted to the Employment Equity Commission, the representation of whites at top management level amounted to 72%, whilst African representation was at 10%.”

He says that better economic growth is expected this year.

“Indications are that we have entered a period of recovery. We anticipate an economic growth rate of 1.3% in 2017.”

The president says that the minimum wage will also help many households.

He added that the drive to stop water leaks had led to job creation.

“About 10,000 unemployed youth are being trained plumbers, artisans and water agents. More will be recruited this year to reach the total of 15,000.”

[WATCH] President Zuma delivers #Sona2017

ZUMA ADDRESSES ESIDIMENI TRAGEDY

He then turned to the Esidimeni tragedy where 94 patients died.

“Compatriots we are deeply distressed by the deaths of so many psychiatric patients in Gauteng.”

Zuma says plans are underway to make sure this doesn't happen again.

“We welcome the recommendation of the Health Ombudsman that there is an urgent need to review the National Health Act and the Mental Health Act with a view that certain powers and functions revert back to the Minister of Health.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)