South Africa: 10 Key Points Zuma Noted During the State of the Nation

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During the recent State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma highlighted a few areas government needed to work on in 2016:

  1. Elections: The local government elections this year. Zuma urged the youth to register to vote. Measures to improve performance included visits to municipalities, spot checks of supply chain processes, implementing recommendations of forensic reports, and increased interventions to help struggling municipalities.
  1. Health: Zuma announced the establishment of a state-owned pharmaceutical company which would supply the department of health with antiretrovirals in the 2016/17 financial year. The white paper on the National Health Insurance was released in December, aimed at improving healthcare in the country, he said. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi would soon announce a major HIV prevention campaign, aimed at the youth.
  1. Land Ownership: To date, around 120 000 land claims had been received since government reopened the process for those who had missed the 1998 deadline. A draft bill capping land ownership at 12 000 hectares and prohibiting foreigners from owning land, allowing long-term leases instead, would be presented to Parliament later this year, he said.
  1. Security: Fifty-seven police officers had been killed since the start of the 2015/16 financial year. “We urge the police to defend themselves when attacked, within the confines of the law.” Efforts were being made to improve under-performing police stations.
  1. Climate Change: Five provinces had been seriously affected by the drought and government was providing relief to affected communities, he said. He thanked civil society initiatives such as Operation Hydrate for their help.
  1. Economy: He attributed the country’s economic woes to the economic slump emerging market economies elsewhere in the world were facing. Mr Zuma said there was work to be done to turn the economy around and cut wastage. “We will have to go through a difficult time for a while,” he said. The president said he was working to attract foreign investment and mentioned the risk of the country being downgraded by ratings agencies. “If that happens, it will become more expensive for us to borrow money from abroad to finance our programmes,” Mr Zuma said.
  1. Nuclear Energy: As part of efforts to address the electricity shortages in the country, Mr Zuma announced that South Africa would procure nuclear energy at a pace South Africa could afford.  “Let me emphasise, we will only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford,” he said.
  1. Government Expenditure: Government would introduce cost-cutting measures to the curb wasteful expenditure. Any government official wanting to go on overseas trips would have to “motivate strongly” and explain how it would benefit the country. The size of delegations on these trips would be reduced and standardised, he said. He maintained that the country would consider having two capitals, Pretoria as the administrative, and Cape Town as the legislative one, as this was too big a cost to maintain.
  1. Immigration: An improved migration policy would make it easier for companies to import scarce skills. Companies had raised concerns with government about delays in obtaining visas for skilled personnel from abroad. “While we prefer employers prioritise local workers, our migration policy must also make it possible to import scarce skills,” he said.
  1. Racism: The president also addressed the resurgent racial tension in the country. “There is a need to confront the demon of racism,” Mr Zuma said. He added that South Africa’s Human Rights Day on 21 March will be commemorated as a national day against racism: “It will be used to lay the foundation for a long-term programme of building a non-racial society.”
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