Mixed reactions to Zuma's speech

President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address contains mixed messages on mining and job creation, Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said on Thursday.

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“We really must create jobs and therefore we need some incentives for the private sector in agriculture, but at the same time he announced labour laws—more restrictive labour laws—and I think that’s a mixed message. The same on the minerals. It seems that Malema [African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema] is winning on the nationalisation of mining and he’s not exactly clear on that.

“I think these mixed messages will not help us at this stage,” he said after Zuma delivered the address.

Malema and the ANC Youth League are at the forefront of the push for the nationalisation of South African mines.

Zuma in his address said the government would make it a priority this year to adopt a beneficiation strategy “so that we can start reaping the full benefits of our commodities”.

“The mineral wealth of our country is a national asset and a common heritage that belongs to all South Africans, with the state as the custodian,” the president said.

“Estimates suggest that our mineral resources are expected to be exploitable for over a century to come.

“To take advantage of that potential, government has endorsed the African Exploration, Mining and Finance Corporation as the state-owned mining company, that will undertake the mining of minerals of strategic significance,” Zuma added.

Mulder said there were “good intentions”—including the president’s comments on crime, corruption and discipline in schools.

“... but the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.

Mantashe comfortable with speech
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said he was “quite comfortable” with the president’s State of the Nation address as it focused on the ruling party’s main priorities.

“We are quite comfortable with the speech as it reflects the problems the ANC has been working on. The R9-billion put aside for job creation is quite good.”

He said the private sector needed to use the opportunity to access that funding.

Zuma’s emphasis on skills development was important to sustain any growth in the economy in the long term.

Mantashe noted that the changing of loans to bursaries for qualifying final year students was also important.

“The rolling out of infrastructure that is water supply to provinces lagging behind like Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape is needed and quite important,” he added.—Sapa

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