Columns 23.6.2014 08:00 am

Mammoth task for Zuma

Farouk Araie. Picture: Supplied.

Farouk Araie. Picture: Supplied.

President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address, transformed himself from Zuma the politician, to Zuma the magician.

The president is in a precarious position, as many of his undertakings will not see the light of day. He will need the magical skills of Harry Houdini to transform our embattled nation.

His pledge to solve the billing crisis in Johannesburg and other areas is a mammoth task beyond the capability of local government. The much vaunted billing system (Project Phakama) at a cost of R580 million has utterly failed to solve the billing crisis. A crisis of this magnitude creates problems for refuse, water and electricity utilities to clean streets, repair street lights and water pipes.

Job creation, as mentioned by the President, is indeed a Herculean task. Prospects for a strong economic rebound are dim, as industry remains weak and increasingly unstable as violent strikes continue to mar progress towards a sustainable economy. According to Deutsche Bank, mining giant Anglo American might sell its platinum assets in SA, valued at R15 billion.

This is extremely worrying, as foreign investors will balk at investing in South Africa. Any act of disinvestment will shatter the prospect of economic recovery. More international downgrades will shatter confidence in our economy.

Our economic gloom has deepened, as we are unable to export strategic minerals. Industrial output has shrunk, underscoring the enormous challenges facing Zuma and his new Cabinet.

Zuma has made many economic promises, the question is, is this vision of the economy near to his political heart? Unfortunately, history shows that politicians are more interested in continuing the failed jobs paradigm, hoping it will produce a different result. Our economic growth is not enough to create jobs for youth entering the labour force.

The president spoke about transformation in the energy sector. South Africa can only prosper if it has sufficient and sustainable energy to power a sophisticated economy. A stable energy platform will lead to positive economic growth. Our energy capacity is woefully short and energy generating policies have not been taken seriously by the relevant authorities.

Energy is the basic driver of our economy. Energy shortages have stifled growth. Cable theft and load-shedding continue to hamper growth.

The president spoke about changing the lives of South Africans. Millions of South Africans are homeless and unemployed. In our rainbow democracy it is a humiliating experience. Studies have defined humiliation as: “The perception of being demeaned or derogated, which results in feeling of lowered self-worth or self-esteem.”

Job creation is a critical factor in fighting poverty. It remains a critical challenge to President Zuma’s administration, as data reveals that millions are unemployed and many more are underemployed. We need a stable work force to allow for positive economic growth. The challenging business environment in a fragile labour situation can be a hindrance to private investment.

President Zuma must honour his commitments to the nation.

 

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