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Sat Jan 31 05:59:53 SAST 2015

Economic realities make Zuma's task an uphill battle

The Times Editorial | 14 February, 2013 00:20

The Times Editorial: When President Jacob Zuma made his State of the Nation speech two years ago, he liberally quoted former president Nelson Mandela. Exhorting his audience to draw inspiration from Mandela's 1994 inauguration speech, Zuma reminded us of the difficulty of walking the road to freedom.

He quoted Mandela: "We must therefore act together as a united people - for national reconciliation, for nation-building, for the birth of a new world."

Zuma had just declared 2011 the year of job creation and he spent a significant amount of time in his speech outlining the efforts that would be made to curb unemployment.

Last year, he announced a year of infrastructure spending, of ensuring that government projects would lead to meaningful job creation.

Today, Zuma will rise before the nation again and, as he has done since becoming president, try to inspire the country to find solutions to the myriad problems that beset it.

He is likely to speak of the horrific rape of a girl in Bredasdorp, he will talk about the sluggish global economy, he might take a moment to reflect on Marikana.

This is part of a president's job description: making the important speeches that create a vision for a country.

But the reality is that Zuma will find that inspiring us to believe that a real improvement in this country's situation is imminent will be a tough sell.

According to Statistics SA, unemployment was at 25.5% in the third quarter of last year, an increase on the previous quarter's 24.9%.

The eurozone, on which South Africa depends as an export market, remains in crisis, and ratings agencies have made their concerns about our political stability and government policies clear in recent downgradings of the national sovereign debt.

As he speaks tonight as leader of the nation, Zuma must know that he has a heavy burden on his shoulders.


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