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Fri May 27 22:09:44 SAST 2016

Unavoidable topics at the State of the Nation address

Leonie Wagner | 05 February, 2016 01:05
Political commentators have highlighted issues such as the state of the economy, education, the drought and the water crisis, as this year's unavoidable topics. File photo
Image by: TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS

President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address is one of the most anticipated events on the political and social calendar.

The president will address a joint sitting of parliament on Thursday next week with the theme, "Following up on our commitments to the people".

Political commentators have highlighted issues such as the state of the economy, education, the drought and the water crisis, as this year's unavoidable topics.

Judith February, a consultant at the governance, crime and justice division of the Institute for Security Studies, said Zuma could not merely deliver a "laundry list" as he'd done in the past.

February said: "The #FeesMust-Fall movement has demonstrated the increasing impatience of young people.

"Such issues are close to the heart of South Africans, particularly as they relate to poverty and inequality.

"The economy is on the brink of a recession and the country is facing very difficult times.

"The president needs to speak to that," she said.

While the dire state of the economy is expected to dominate, the local government elections will be the "Achilles heel" of the address.

Political commentator and puppet Chester Missing said Zuma was in an "awkward" position because the Nkandla and Gupta sagas had dented his credibility.

Missing said: "He is living in the Gupta economy, while we are living in the South African economy and there's a different exchange rate.

"You get one Zuma for five Guptas."

Political commentator Somadoda Fikeni said the subject of the economic crisis was unavoidable.

"It remains to be seen whether he'll use the usual one-line-fits-all approach.

"His high level of defensiveness means there is a denial of the economic crisis."

Fikeni said: "The elephant in the room is growling and he can't avoid it. But the address will be about how he packages it."

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