What people expect from the President’s State of the Nation Address today

Image by © Jordi Matas/Demotix/Corbis
Image by © Jordi Matas/Demotix/Corbis

 

The economy and economic growth

The economy needs to grow to create jobs; to achieve strategic goals; and to prevent South Africa’s downgrading to junk status. Here the plummeting rand, rising food prices and soaring government debt are major concerns. The reasons for the current crisis, as well as possible solutions, will have to be addressed. The president needs to acknowledge the problems and announce concrete steps to begin to fix the ailing economy.

Civil servants’ salaries

The government’s wage bill simply has to be trimmed. Civil servants’ salaries and benefits consume 35.5% of government’s total budget. This contributed to public debt ballooning by 70% between 2009 and 2014 from 26% of GDP to 44% by 2014.

The return on this investment has been almost non-existent as the civil service remains unproductive and service delivery protests remain a fact of daily life.

President Zuma must use the speech to signal his willingness to cut this inefficient spending.

Social cohesion

The current wave of racism sweeping the country falls under the goal of social cohesion. The President should address the racial divide in the country.

Fees must fall

The president needs to show that he has listened to students’ concerns about unaffordable education. He needs to commit to finding sustainable solutions.

Land reform

More radical social and economic transformation, with emphasis on land reform, will be most critical.

Political Violence

The president needs to address violence within and between political parties. The issue is serious in view of the forthcoming local elections.

 

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