Civil, political groups expect a lot from Zuma’s Sona

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.

 

Zuma has faced a barrage of criticism after his shocking removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister at a time when the economy is on the rocks. It also comes days after his admission that the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla recommendations were binding.

Civil and political organisations are expecting a lot from the President’s address. One of these is Section27 which is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights.

The centre’s executive director Mark Heywood said given the country’s difficult fiscal climate and declarations from the ANC’s National General Council about the revival of the integrity commissions, they hope to see zero tolerance of corruption.

“Tens of billions are lost from the public purse due to flight of capital, tax evasion and irregular tenders and plain old theft,” Heywood s aid.

“These are public funds that should be spent on improving the lives of millions of people living in South Africa.”

The centre also wants to see increases in targeted funding for basic education and health, as these are fundamental rights, and mentioned the thousands of schools without adequate sanitation, textbooks or decent infrastructure. “That goes against the mantra of a decent life for all,” he said.

They hope to see more commitment to funding for medicines. “We also need better protection against corruption and negligence and improved procurement processes to avoid drug stock outs… that sets thousands back in terms of treatment and devastates families and communities. According to the SA Medical Journal, human resources in health is skewed towards administrative staff as they outnumber doctors two to one. We expect the President to highlight this and find ways of rectifying this,” Heywood said.

Meanwhile, Mabine Seabe, spokesperson for the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, said they hoped Zuma would place the economy and jobs at the forefront of his address. Seabe said, “[There are] 8.3 million jobless South Africans who will be looking to tonight’s speech for hope of a comprehensive and achievable economic growth and jobs plan. Zuma, last year, spoke of a nine-point plan to ignite economic growth and job creation but all we have seen is economic decline and job losses.”

United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa said the current leadership was obsessed with consumptive policies, hence they were now corruptly targeting pensions. “Nedlac has failed us. Therefore, let’s appoint a steering committee to prepare a framework for an inclusive economic indaba which would, among others, come up with a plan and timeframes to take our economy forward,” he said.

“How can we make sure that we invest in the majority of citizens in this country as opposed to the so-called BEE ‘deployees’ with no control and ownership? How do we deal with tensions between labour, government and business?”

  AUTHOR
Aphiwe Boyce
Metro Reporter

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