Zuma delivers second State of the Nation Address

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cape Town - All eyes will be on President Jacob Zuma tonight when he delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), since taking office in May last year.

The precinct around Parliament is a hive of activity ahead of its opening as final preparations steam ahead for what is being touted as "an extra special" opening of parliament as it coincides with the 20th anniversary of former President Nelson Mandela's release from prison. Madiba himself is expected to attend the prestigious event.

An estimated 1 500 people are expected to gather around the National Assembly to welcome parliamentarians, political heads, ambassadors, high commissioners and invited international guests who will be attending the opening of parliament by President Zuma.

The day will be used to allow the people of the country to pay tribute to Madiba for the role he played in building a free and democratic South Africa.

The President will use the opportunity of the SONA to reflect on how far the country has come and focus on what still needs to be done in order to speed up service delivery while articulating what measurables government will use to guage the progress it is making.

"While it draws on the momentous events of 20 years ago, this year's State of the Nation Address will be about the future. It will be forward looking, reflecting on the outcomes by which this administration will measure its progress in fulfilling its electoral mandate," said Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane ahead of the Address on Wednesday.

Last year's SONA laid the foundation for the promotion of a responsive, interactive and effective developmental state, and this year Zuma will reflect on the steps his administration has taken towards this goal.

The top priorities, identified by his administration as needing urgent attention - the creation of decent work, education, health, rural development and land reform, and the fight against crime - will be dealt with by Zuma. Special focus will be given to the state of the South African economy, bearing in mind that the current administration came into office in the midst of a recession.

Alluding to the economic downturn, Chabane said the President will reflect on the "impact that this has had on our economy, and particularly on our efforts to promote the creation of decent work. Importantly, the address will look at how we most effectively support an accelerated recovery and beyond that, sustained growth over the medium to long term."

While the President will go to great lengths to articulate what still needs to be done by his administration, he will also take time to emphasise that these are not merely the outcomes of government, but outcomes that all of society should work together towards achieving.