Mixed reactions to President's address

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parliament - President Kgalema Motlanthe's State of the Nation Address has been met with mixed reaction on the steps of the National Assembly where the President delivered his speech a few hours ago.

While some politicians said the speech, which indicated government would continue implementing its 1994 mandate, was balanced and offered hope to the nation, others said it lacked in the action needed to address the challenges faced by the country.

While President Kgalema Motlanthe was criticised by some for not going far enough in setting out ways in which government would improve the lives of South Africans in the future, he was lauded for his honest and straightforward address.

Many of those interviewed by BuaNews felt that the President should have announced the election date, but others said it would have overshadowed his address. President Motlanthe had, however said that he would make an announcement in the next few days after wrapping up meetings with the Independent Electoral Commission.

Businessman Tokyo Sexwale said the address had been "a surprisingly very good speech for somebody who had only been in office for only a few months. He has a total grasp of the overall picture and addressed us on the complexities before us.

"It was also very balanced and as business I am glad that while he said South Africa was not as affected as other countries globally, he was realistic on the negative impact the meltdown would have on South Africa."

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said the speech was balanced but lacked specifics in a number of areas, such as what was going to happen in the future with crime, how the country was going to be made more secure and what was going to happen to mitigate the cholera outbreak.

Patricia De Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats (ID) said the address was honest in expressing how the country was dealing with the challenges it faced. However, it lacked in the implementation aspect of how it was going to deal with the challenges.

"It was balanced and it did offer hope. He gave assurances that things will get better but that civil society also needed to come to the party in searching for solutions."

A Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament said that the address did not go far enough in looking at the future and what could be done.

The United Democratic Front's (UDF) Bantu Holomisa felt that the address was designed to win the hearts and minds of South Africans.

"He focused on day-to-day administration, now it will be up to (The Minister of Finance) Trevor Manuel, to tell how we are going.