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State of the Nation: Zuma has little to offer

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Jun 3, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    In his first State of the Nation address it was obvious that President Jacob Zuma had, owing to the dire economic climate South Africa finds itself in, little to offer.

    His speech was full of promises to stem job losses, fight crime and improve the lives of people, but provided little in the way of measurable targets or budget allocations.

    The speech took place on a rainy, grey winter's day in Cape Town, which was perhaps an apt environment considering the reality the new president faces now that he is properly settled as the country's first citizen.

    The issue of job creation featured prominently in Zuma's address, with details on how the bloodbath of job losses could be stemmed in an economic climate that is far from rosy.

    Zuma did not present any large-scale bailout plans because the fiscus does not allow for large chunks of cash to be injected into selected industries. He announced that a "training layoff" would be introduced, which would give workers a period in which to be reskilled rather than retrenched. The government would also engage the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to help employers in financial distress to find alternatives to retrenchments.

    While Zuma boasted that the expanded public works programme (EPWP) would create four million job opportunities by 2014, these would not all be the "decent work" that the African National Congress's (ANC) alliance partners are urging the ruling party to create. Jobs created as part of the EPWP are mostly temporary and are aimed at giving the unemployable an opportunity to build skills in order to find work elsewhere once the project is complete.

    The speech contained no word on the extension of the child grant to children up to 18 years of age -- a commitment from the ANC -- although Zuma admitted "social grants are the most effective form of poverty alleviation". He was, however, quick to point out that grants would increasingly be linked to economic activity, but state grants currently are only aimed at the most vulnerable groups in society, including children and the disabled, who are generally exempted from economic activity anyway.

    The government would rely heavily on the R787-billion that former finance minister Trevor Manuel set aside for the next three years to build economic and social infrastructure, to create jobs and improve the livelihoods of people.