Zuma is sell­ing us a dud

CityPress - - Voices -

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.

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