Yesterday I listened to our president deliver the State Of the Nation Address and like most of the SONAs that our president has delivered before it was filled with promises to deliver on key issues that our country is facing.
The President touched on a multiple number of issues last night but there are a few that really concern me because I believe that he should have touched on them a little more, these are the ones that in the February 2014 SONA he had said the government had “elected to focus on” in order to tackle the “triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment”, these are education, health, the fight against crime and corruption, rural development and land reform as well as creating decent work for those who have a tough time remembering what they are, among other things.
These issues are important to me because had he touched on them more and given more detail about how far they were with implementing some of the plans they had planned to implement in that February 2014 SONA a sense of continuity would have come forth. What’s the point of having new plans every time you deliver a State of the Nation Address because what all that does is create confusion among the constituents because we never know which plan our government is actually implementing.
In some of these issues our president actually gave out some information of how far they were with implementing them but not enough, and he didn’t give out enough information about certain ones, these include:
The president actually gave out a plan that they were planning to implement which will make sure that “ownership of land will be capped at 12 000 hectares and foreign nationals will not be able to own land in South Africa but will be eligible for a long term lease”. This law, which will be called “The Regulation of Land Act”, “will be submitted to parliament this year”. What the president did not explain is what sort of impact this law will have on foreign investment because a law like that, which does not allow foreign nationals to own land, will definitely have an impact on the foreign investment.
Fighting crime and corruption
The President continued to claim that the government was working hard “to fight crime and create safer communities” and that they were “making progress in fighting crimes against women and children” and that “659 life sentences were handed to perpetrators of crime against women and children” when an hour earlier a female member of the EFF walked out of the parliament building bleeding and with what looked like a broken nose after she was assaulted by the very people who were supposed to protect her.
Some good things were said about the fight against crime where 1907 unrest-related and 11 668 peaceful strikes were managed to be brought under control by the police but I think our concern should be more on why are we having so many strikes in one year in the first place.
The President spoke about “improving the infrastructure in schools and higher education institution to create a conducive environment for learning and teaching.” While all of this is great I feel like he should have talked about the ever so increasing fees in institutions of higher education and how they plan to help more student with the burden of paying those fees, what’s the point of qualifying to study at university if you can’t even afford to register let alone pay for the fees.
Creating decent work
The President always throws the phrase “work opportunities” when he is discussing this topic and till today I have never met anyone who knows or understands what it means. The President said that “more than 850 000 job opportunities were created thus far” but if we are honest how many of these “work opportunities” are sustainable jobs? Yes the EPWP is creating part time jobs to improve skills for those who participate but what the point of having a skill if there is no industry to use it in.
We need more sustainable jobs and not these 3 month “work opportunities” that our government is giving us.
There are more topics that the president could have touched more on to give the nation a better feel of continuity from our government but those are some of the ones that stick out for me because they are the ones that come up very year yet every year there is a new plan to tackle the same issues we were facing last year.
Then there is the power crisis that has been blamed on Apartheid and Jan Van Riebeeck but never on the real perpetrators of the problem which is the ANC led government, but that is a topic that deserves a post of its own.
What I’m basically trying to put across here is that, yes the disruptions caused by the EFF were wrong, and calling the police into the house was even worse because that went against the constitution of the country, which is the highest document in the country, but another big issue that is hindering the development for the democracy of this country is the inability of our leaders to show continuity in the work they do.