State of the Nation - statement by the UDM President (10 February 2011)

The UDM welcomes the State of the Nation address, it is a good indication of the Governments plans for the year ahead.

We sense that there is a paradigm shift on economic policy, with a new willingness by Government to invest in the economy with a view to create jobs. The leading economies of the world - such as America, China and the European states - invest trillions of dollars a year in their economies through subsidies and other measures. The R9 billion over three years that President Zuma announced for additional job creation initiatives is therefore a step in the right direction.

The UDM however feels that the President missed a number of opportunities. Firstly, he did not mention that South Africa will later this year be hosting the latest round of the international climate change talks. Environmental issues, as highlighted by the recent devastating floods, are extremely important and have a direct bearing on our socio-economic wellbeing. The President could have used his speech to set the stage for a year of environmental activism leading up to the international climate change conference. In this vein, he could have announced initiatives that improve the household food security and bio-diversity in poor communities, which would make a direct and tangible impact on the quality of life of millions of people.

Secondly, President Zuma also missed an opportunity to give former President Mbeki the credit he deserves for his role in the successful referendum for independence that was recently completed in South Sudan.

The overriding question is now: Will Government make good on the promises and commitments in the Presidents speech? The widespread community protests of the past few years are an indication that people are no longer willing to tolerate perpetually unfulfilled promises of service delivery.