Tue Oct 25 22:55:11 CAT 2016

Zuma's Sona date announcement comes after turbulent year in office

Penwell Dlamini | 17 October, 2016 13:40
While the promises he made in February 2016 may not all have materialized‚ the year so far has been a turbulent one for Zuma. File photo

President Jacob Zuma has announced a date for his next State of the Nation (Sona) address in Parliament‚ following what has arguably been his most turbulent year in office.

It will be delivered on Thursday‚ February 9‚ 2017. Zuma’s 2016 State of the Nation message focused on the economy in an effort to stave off a threatened credit ratings downgrade‚ which is still possible eight months later.

He promised to fast-track partnerships with the private sector;

to cut red tape;

to address governance and performance problems at state-owned enterprises;

to encourage skilled migration into SA;

to promote and encourage tourism in the context of a competitive exchange rate;

and to expedite regulatory certainty in the mining sector.

 He said the recommendations of the presidential review commission on state-owned enterprises would be implemented. The commission recommended the disposal of non-core state companies and encouraged private investment in others‚ such as through public share offerings.

He also promised to cut wasteful government expenditure. While the promises he made in February 2016 may not all have materialized‚ the year so far has been a turbulent one for Zuma.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took him to the Constitutional Court to get him to pay for the non-security upgrades at his homestead in Nkandla. Zuma‚ who initially said he was not liable for any repayments‚ later told the court through his lawyers that he was ready to pay back some of the money as directed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The Constitutional Court ruled at the end of March that Zuma breached the Constitution when he failed to heed Madonsela’s report on non security improvements to his private residence‚ and should reimburse the state an amount to be determined by National Treasury.

Treasury calculated the amount as R7.8 million and there were doubts about where Zuma would find the money. But in September he repaid the money after obtaining a home loan from VBS Mutual Bank.

The about-turn was a victory for the EFF who were ridiculed in Parliament when they demanded that Zuma pay for the upgrades. Now‚ threatening to overshadow the scandal around Nkandla‚ is a growing controversy over the influential Gupta family and their relationship with Zuma.

Minerals Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane shocked the nation at the end of August when he announced that cabinet had taken an unprecedented decision to ask Zuma to set up a judicial inquiry to investigate auditing firms and banks that closed accounts belonging to the Gupta family businesses.

It turned out not to be a cabinet decision. Zuma is now opposing the release of a report into state capture‚ featuring the Gupta family‚ compiled under the watch of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

- TMG Digital


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