Mixed reaction to SONA

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma’s seventh State of the Nation Address garnered mixed reactions from ordinary South Africans SAnews spoke to on Wednesday morning.

Some gave the President thumbs up for admitting that there are challenges and committing to action.

Ofenste Nkuna (38) welcomed the announcement that there will be a sharper focus on the accountability of officials in the public sector.

“If government can genuinely implement [President Zuma’s] performance criteria for ministers and holds them accountable, he will get the thumbs up from me.”

Last night, President Zuma said measures will be introduced to prevent public servants and public representatives from doing business with the State.

He said these will be supported by improved implementation of the Financial Disclosure Framework, strengthened protection of whistle-blowers, and the provision of technical assistance to departments for the effective management of discipline.

Small business owner Lihle Makhubo (53) welcomed government’s plans concerning small business.

“It’s good to hear government is finally taking small business seriously. However, if they can regulate, support and minus the red tape – small business can turn around the economy,” Makhubo said.

Over the next five years, Zuma said government will prioritise support for small business, as well as the township and informal business sectors in particular, thus using the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) development programme to boost broad-based black economic empowerment.

Others said while the President committed to address poverty, inequality and unemployment, it was time for action.

“It was something we have heard before,” said Nico Ngobeni, stressing that what was needed now was implementation.

Growing the economy

Expanding the economy will take centre stage in the new administration, President Zuma said, while outlining plans to bolster the energy and mining industries to fuel South Africa’s economy.

Government has set a growth target of 5% by 2019. 

“It was good to hear that [President Zuma] will be tackling some of the concerns like mining and local government. It shows that he really consulted a lot with business and details relating to mining problems were evident,” Sophia Nkopodi said.

President Zuma said as the country enters the second phase of its transition from apartheid to a national democratic society, South Africa has to embark on radical socio-economic transformation to push back the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“The economy takes centre stage in this programme. It remains our strong belief that the most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty is the creation of decent work, and that creating work requires faster economic growth,” the President said.

He announced that the mining sector will receive attention, which will see mining companies converting and upgrading hostels into family units, among others.

President Zuma said government would play the role of “big brother” to ensure that mining companies meet the Mining Charter targets in order to improve the lives of mineworkers.

This announcement was also welcomed by the Chamber of Mines, which said it was encouraged by government’s commitment to escalating its interventions in the mining sector.

“The acknowledgement of the global market conditions by the President is an indication that government fully comprehends that South Africa is not immune to the negative sentiments of the markets on its economy.

“The Chamber of Mines looks forward to working with government in promoting foreign investment in South Africa, especially in mining,” Chamber of Mines spokesperson Zingaphi Matanzima said in a statement.

Matanzima said the Chamber would continue its co-operation with both the Mining Consultative Forum and the Presidential Housing Package, which seeks to look into the living and working conditions of mineworkers.

“We thank the President for raising the profile of the mining sector and for his commitment on the behalf of government to work with the mining sector leadership and the leadership of organised labour to engender a stable industrial relations environment, to promote more effective community development, to deal with the legacies of the migrant labour system and to help restore investor confidence in the mining sector.” - SAnews.gov.za

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