UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
UDM EXPECTATIONS FOR MBEKIíS STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
ISSUED BY BANTU HOLOMISA, MP
The UDM identifies the following four broad areas that President Mbeki needs to address tomorrow:
The UDM is particularly concerned to see increasing signs of disregard for basic democratic principles such as accountability, transparency and the separation of powers. Mbeki urgently needs to show his (and the ANCís) commitment to these principles. We hope that Mbeki will tomorrow acknowledge the importance of these concepts and undo some of the mistakes committed by his government in the past 20 months. Mbeki and the ANC must remember that a democratic mandate does not give them the licence to suspend democracy. There are three examples of recent mistakes that need to be addressed by Mbeki.
Firstly the arms procurement investigation; the UDM hopes that Mbeki will announce a judicial inquiry or Special Investigation Unit (albeit without Judge Heath) to participate and fill a vital gap in the current investigation. Such a step by Mbeki will regain some of SAís lost credibility and prestige.
Secondly the moratorium on crime statistics; the UDM hopes that Mbeki will retract the moratorium on crime statistics that reminds painfully of the previous regimeís suppression of information it deemed damaging to its own image, irrespective of the safety or needs of the population.
Thirdly the proposed Mineral Rights Bill; the UDM hopes that Mbeki will acknowledge the flaws of this Bill, and its clauses that infringe on the private property clauses in the Bill of Rights. The UDM firmly believes that various constitutionally acceptable solutions can be found to address the reform of the minerals industry.
On all these matters the ANC must remember that it supported these rights when the Constitution was drafted, they must uphold and respect them now.
The economy took a battering last year, directly affecting the number one priority of South Africa, namely job creation. The refrain of "good economic fundamentals" rings hollowly whilst our reality is jobless growth. The UDM sincerely hopes that Mbeki will announce clear steps to address the unemployment crisis. The UDM has consistently pointed out to Mbeki and the ruling party that "economic fundamentals" are merely the starting point for solving the jobs crisis and attracting investment, we have suggested various actions relating to the development of the Small Medium and Micro Enterprise sector, providing access to capital for the majority of the population, reviewing the restrictive labour framework, restructuring of state assets, creative plans to attract foreign investment etc. Mbeki must realise that the window of opportunity for addressing these issues is shrinking; tomorrow he needs to put the country on an irreversible path towards dealing with the above-mentioned issues. Mbekiís failure to do so will send South Africa hurtling faster down the slippery slope of last year.
Delivery of basic social services must get back on track. Incompetence underlined by corruption continues to be the cause for below-average performance across the whole spectrum of delivery from health and welfare through to housing, land restitution and access to water and electricity. In these areas practical solutions are still lacking to address various huge challenges like HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, Cholera and poverty. Mbeki needs to set the tone and move government away from the current reactive and ad hoc method of crisis management. The debate should simply move forward, away from arguments over the extent or form of the challenges, towards the recognition that we face these challenges and that they must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Mbeki is ideally placed tomorrow to usher in this necessary progress, and to make good on the promises of 20 months ago when he was hailed as the President who would get things done with his "lets get to work" slogan.