President Jacob Zuma considers the State of the Nation address to be one of his “most important” speeches, he said in a radio interview ahead of the opening of Parliament on Thursday.
“As you wake up, you know that you are carrying a very huge responsibility,” Zuma said in an interview broadcast on SAfm on Thursday morning.
“The nation puts you here and they are expecting you to report back what you have been doing, but also to say what is it you’re going to do on the tasks before you.
“So, in a sense, you position yourself with an understanding that I am going to be talking to the nation — very important, one of the most important addresses that you can make,” said Zuma.
He has received advice and calls from across the country on matters he should address in his speech on Thursday night, with crime, joblessness, corruption and education problems topping the agenda.
This week the Democratic Alliance told Zuma to take decisive action on challenges facing South Africa.
“The president is always very keen to talk about WE, together WE can deliver … but this is a time when the president should be talking about what HE is going to be doing,” DA leader Athol Trollip told a media briefing at Parliament on Monday.
In a statement handed to journalists, he said the time had come for Zuma to talk in specifics.
“This is no time for promises too sweeping for their progress to be measured. Nor is it the time for superfluous rhetoric and gesture.
“In the past, President Zuma has used vague concepts — like that of job opportunity — to make meaningless promises, and to claim tenuous successes.”
The Independent Democrats (ID) said the focus of Zuma’s address needed to be on the economy and the urgent need to create millions of jobs.
“The ID expects the president to clarify the current mixed signals emanating from the ruling alliance and outline precisely what aspects of the new economic growth path will be implemented.
“The president must give the nation an inspiring vision with practical actions that will be taken to ensure that the … most pressing issues are addressed simultaneously, namely poverty and unemployment,” it said.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said its expectations from Thursday’s State of the Nation address included major reforms and improvements in job creation, education, health, rural development and land reform, and in the fight against corruption and crime.
“After two years in office, it is essential that the speech should contain concrete plans to translate these commitments into real changes on the ground.
“Last year, we urged the president to pay particular attention to policies to reverse the catastrophic loss of 959 000 jobs in the first nine months of 2009.
“In fact, jobs continued to disappear, bringing the total loss since the start of 2009 until the last quarter of 2010 to 1,17-million,” it said.– Sapa