What We Can Expect For The State Of The Nation Address, 12 Feb

Written by Steuart Pennington

It’s not as though our President has been sitting on his hands since February 2014.

  • Quite a lot has been done
  • Quite a lot hasn’t been done
  • Quite a lot still has to be done

The scorecard below tells the story of what was said last year, and what has been achieved (source – City Press 8th Feb)
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE

Re-focus of development institutions – IDC and World Bank
 ✔
Establish energy security cabinet sub-committee
 ✔
Launch fourth round of renewable energy power producers
 ✔
Build 100Km² Array Antennas
 ✔
New buses, trains and passenger rail
 ✔
Boost foreign visitor arrivals to 15 million annually
 ✔
Tourism to contribute R125 Billion by 2017
 ✔
Sharpen BEE and Employment Equity Policies and Codes
 ✔
Youth Employment Accord
 ✔
Youth Employment Tax Incentives launched
 ✔
Re-open land claims process
 ✔
Pass an Urban Development framework
 ✔
Eradicate mud schools
 ✔
Medical University in Limpopo
 ✔
Twelve technical training colleges being built
 ✔
Centralise procurement
 ✔
Implement medium term strategic framework
 ✔
Sign performance contracts with Ministers
 ✔
Get Jobs Fund working (16 884 jobs by August 2014)
 ✔
BRICS Bank approved
 ✔
13 new small claims courts established
 ✔
Achieved most Millennium Development Goals
 ✔
20 million people voluntarily tested for HIV
 ✔
Operation PHAKISA to unlock economic potential of SA’s oceans
 ✔
R2.4 Billion set aside to build 200 000 houses for miners
 ✔

WHAT’S STILL TO BE DONE

Social partners to mitigate against violent and long strikes
 –
Broaden regional integration
 –
Framework agreement for sustainable mining industry
 –
Revitalise mining towns
 –
State to procure 75% of goods from local business
 –
Second phase of Lesotho Highlands Water project
 –
100 water and sanitation projects
 –
Fix struggling Municipalities
 –

WHAT HASN’T BEEN DONE

Economic growth at 5% by 2019
 ✘
Remove obstacles to FDI
 ✘
Build the Post Bank
 ✘
Agricultural policy certainty and job growth
 ✘
Remove 6 obstacles to doing business
 ✘
Radical transformation of the energy sector
 ✘
Focus on nuclear energy and shale gas
 ✘
Speed up next coal-fired power station
 ✘
Spend R847 Billion on infrastructure over the next 3 years
 ✘
Expand information and communication infrastructure including broadband and digital broadcasting
 ✘
Fix Johannesburg’s billing problems
 ✘
Increase University entrants
 ✘
Anti-corruption task team and HAWKS to combat corruption
 ✘

So what do we want to hear on Thursday? I think more than ever before citizens are aware of the challenges facing our country

  • We have experienced the load shedding and been mightily put out by it.
  • We have seen the images on TV of a country beset by social protest and citizens express their anger at lack of service delivery
  • We have seen youths rampaging through our townships looting foreign owned stores.
  • We have seen the goings on in SARS, the NPA, the HAWKS, the SABC, SAA as the President tries to ‘capture’ our State institutions by making them leaderless
  • We found out to-day (Monday 9th Feb) that a judge of the North Gauteng High Court will, on 16 March, hear the DA’s application to review the dropping of charges (on more than 700 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering) against our President.

Mr. President, we think it fair that the good work that has done be acknowledged (as above), and in many respects there is a ‘good story’ to tell particularly in some of the macro advances that have been made in the war on poverty, unemployment and inequality.
So let’s have some detail please?
Poverty:
Is it true as The City Press (Sunday 8 Feb) reports that only 6.9% of South African now live in extreme poverty, considerably less hat was the case 20 years ago. (We acknowledge that the debate on poverty is contentious, City Press reports that 53% of South Africans live in ‘poverty’, but they fail to define the difference between extreme poverty, moderate poverty and relative poverty).
Unemployment:
Is it true that of the 8 million economically active citizens that are ‘officially unemployed’ BUT that some 6 million are economically engaged in the informal sector? We read of many studies that estimate the informal sector to be growing at twice that of the formal sector with a value estimated at R350 billion annually.
Inequality:
Is it true that our Gini co-efficient is at 0.67, amongst the worst in the world, and double that of India’s, but that the impact of the social wage – child grants, pensions, free housing (over 106 000 and 130 000 electricity connection built this year by govt), free access to water and electricity, free schooling and free food at schools are not factored in?
And then what of the failures in terms of the above scorecard?

  • What in particular is to be done to encourage FDI and stop our ratings downgrades?
  • What is to be done to improve the relationship between the social partners:- government, business and labour?
  • Why has the NDP got stuck?
  • Why is the mining industry bedevilled by policy confusion?
  • Why is the broadband roll-out so slow?
  • Why is the government’s anti-corruption unit paralysed with inertia?
  • Why is our global competitiveness falling?
  • What is going to be done to improve state capacity?

Just eight questions, can they be answered?
And what of those really NB things that are on last year’s list and still need to be done?

  • Broadening regional integration
  • 75% state procurement from local business
  • Fixing struggling municipalities
  • Water roll-out
  • Securing electricity supply and 10% renewables to the national grid
  • Answers on Nkandla

Just six, can they be answered?
We, as a nation, wait with baited breath.
Please don’t subject us to a ‘Via Dolorosa’.
We want to emerge with a real sense of what the State of our Nation is at present ………and a realistic sense of where our Nation is headed.
We hope the Opposition behaves.
Good luck and best wishes for Thursday Mr. President.

Source: Steuart Pennington