The ACDP Steve Swart says: The main challenge facing the nation is undoubtedly widespread unemployment and poverty. We expect the President to address this issue which is linked to domestic economic growth projections and the impact of the global economy, including the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, on our economic growth. He will also refer to foreign policy and our role on the African continent (AU and PAP) as well as at the UN Security Council. We also trust that the President will refer to the parlous state of our education, as well as the state of our health sector and the fight against HIV and Aids. He should also refer to the fight against crime, and the widespread fraud and corruption in the public sector that has necessitated intervention from National Treasury in taking over various provincial departments, such as in Limpopo. Whilst President Zuma commendably fired and reshuffled Cabinet ministers, suspended police commissioner Cele and appointed a commission of inquiry into the arms deal, we do not believe that he made good on certain of his commitments last year. It is significant that his undertaking to provide 5 million job opportunities by 2020 has already been downgraded to 4 million. On the investment front, he has failed to adequately repudiate reckless calls for the nationalisation of mines, which together with regulatory uncertainty, has severely impacted foreign investment in the mining sector, a major contributor to our GDP and job creation. This when the international mining indaba will be taking place in South Africa immediately before the State of the nation. The ACDP looks forward to the President placing South Africa first and not narrow party political objectives. This, particularly when the majority party and president Zuma is facing elective and policy conferences, when the distinction between party and state becomes blurred. State agencies may even be used to pursue political agenda’s. This must be condemned and avoided. As far as lack of service delivery is concerned, particularly at local government level, the necessary skilled and qualified persons must be employed in managerial positions, and not merely card-carrying deployees. Legislation to prohibit this practice must be implemented. We also expect progress in the monitoring of the performance of all ministers and departments. Non-performing ministers must be recalled. Progress must be made with addressing issues raised by the National Planning Commission’s National Development Plan, particulalrly the nine main challenges which include the following: too few people work; the standard of education is poor; infrastructure is crumbling and insufficient to promote higher growth; a widespread disease burden is compounded by failing public health system; public services are uneven and often of poor quality; corruption is widespread; and South Africa remains a divided society.The political and structural impediments to the implementation of the plan, such as the ruling party and its alliance partners not being on the same page economically, must be addressed. In view of global economic uncertainty arising from the Eurozone crisis and its impact on our domestic economic growth, we would like the President to call a mini-Codesa on the economy where agreements between government, business and labour and could be discussed.
ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley says: Service delivery protests, coupled with surveys showing that many people are not happy with service delivery are a clear indication that the President has not managed to make good on promises he made in the SONA address. While there has been a drive to improve financial management of municipalities, a report compiled by the Auditor-general recommended intervention in 35% of municipalities. 33% were due to poor leadership and 35% due to weak governance. The ACDP welcomed the Municipal Systems Act of 2011 which aims to prevent political parties from deploying cadres into top municipal positions. The Act stipulates that any municipal official found guilty of fraud and corruption may not be hired for ten years afterwards. The ACDP would prioritise necessary interventions in failing municipalities and ensure strict compliance with the Municipals Systems Act. In 2012 the fate of the Secrecy Bill, the consequences of the cabinet discussion on the rights of refugees and migrants to access documentation and benefits, and the direction that National Health Insurance will take all hang in the balance. All these things will impact enormously on the state of our democracy and the quality of life of individuals, families and communities. The ACDP would like to see the President commit to ensuring these aspects are not only prioritised but given in-depth scrutiny in order to ensure they have the positive impact desired.
– By By ACDP Steve Swart and Cheryllyn Dudley