State of the Nation (SONA) at a glance

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President Jacob Zuma delivered the 2014 State of the Nation Address (SONA) on February 13, 2014. The theme was “’20 years of democratic Parliament’.

The SONA was also a bittersweet event, as it was the first of its nature that former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December last year, was not around to witness.

In his speech, Zuma focused on the country’s economic challenges and the achievements of 20 years of ANC rule. Zuma said the country needed to boost economic growth to 5% and warned that strife in the economic sector should not be allowed to destroy an industry that employed more than half a million people and contributed R20 billion tax revenue.

He believed both the mining industry and trade unions were aware it was in their interest to resolve their dispute and government’s intervention was yielding progress.

Zuma began his speech by saluting the legacy of Mandela, Zuma enumerated the achievements of South Africa’s successive democratic governments since 1994, starting with burying an oppressive minority regime. They had made “South Africa a better place to live in now than it ever was before”.

He said the GDP had grown to more than R3.5 trillion, jobs were being created again, and a record 15 million people were employed. Zuma acknowledged that the country still faced daunting problems in overcoming inequality, poverty, and unemployment.

He tempered this with a rallying cry to work together and said all government’s administrative programmes were focused on eradicating these problems. He reiterated that it was crucial that business, labour and government join forces to double economic growth to create further jobs.

Turning to problems certain to feature in the opposition’s election campaign, Zuma sought to minimise the increase in service delivery protests and said government was taking firm action to fight corruption. He said it was worrying that protests were increasingly marked by premeditated violence, but insisted better delivery was fuelling impatience.

For the latest news on SONA, click here.

In 2009, five priority areas were identified by government : education, health, rural development and agrarian reform, crime and creating decent work.

The chart below shows a summary of what President Zuma said on the different priorities in the June 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 SONA. Hover your mouse over the cell for the priority area and corresponding year that you are interested in viewing.

If you cannot see the text description for each cell, please click on the link to download the workbook to view it in Excel (if you do not have Excel, you can download OpenOffice – a free alternative).

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