Zuma is selling us a dud
President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address (Sona) this week has been described as a watershed moment by some within the governing party who remain loyal to him.
Granted, unlike all his other Sonas, where he just rattled off old statistics about who has access to water and electricity, and repeated old promises, this year’s speech had a specific theme of radical economic transformation.
The picture he painted of how few black people are involved in controlling the levers of the economy, whether by ownership or management, is staggering. We have a long way to go and interventions are important. As he correctly pointed out, the skewed nature of ownership and leadership patterns must be corrected. There cannot be sustainability in any economy if the majority are excluded like this.
However, Zuma spoke as if he had assumed power last week and had suddenly unearthed all these anomalies. He has been president for seven years and this unbalanced economic picture has always existed. What has he done all this time?
We can’t help but think that Zuma is selling us a dud. Within reach, he has all the instruments he needs, including BEE laws, employment equity laws and business charters, which he could have used to change the situation in the past seven years. He has no record of being firm on the enforcement of these instruments. Instead, he has spent most of the seven years fighting factional battles in the ANC, getting cosy with a dodgy family, building a safe and secure compound for his family, and giggling his way through Sonas.
With just two years of his presidency left, Zuma seems to have found a new cause that he can make promises about, and then promptly return to ensuring that the next elected ANC leader is not someone who could prosecute him. Almost every year, Zuma has spoken about the expansion of infrastructure and how that can be used to boost employment, but not much has come of it.
We recognise that most big corporations have not embraced the cause of transformation and are content with the bare minimum of compliance. But we feel that, instead of coming up with a new basket of promises, only to disappear until February next year, Zuma and the ANC must govern effectively, and enforce existing transformation policies. The results will follow.