The Democratic Alliance shares President Zuma's optimism in the future of the country. Indeed, South Africa is undoubtedly a better place today than it was under Apartheid. But Mr Zuma cannot allow the progress of what has been achieved from those dark days over-shadow the great task which still lies before us.
Nor can he expect South Africans to keep quiet when his own government is showing every sign that it is not capable of keeping South Africa on a path to growth and prosperity.
It is high time President Zuma took his own advice to opposition parties this afternoon and put South Africa first.
But his State of the Nation Address, and now his reply to the serious concerns raised by Members of Parliament during the course of the debate, show that he does not.
Instead, he seemed more concerned with lamenting opposition cooperation in Parliament, than he did with addressing key concerns around his government's ability to deliver on what it promises.
President Zuma has shown himself to be the wrong man for these times and South Africa has lost confidence in his ability to take South Africa forward.
President Zuma failed again to commit to the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy. His vague references to incentives will do nothing to reassure the millions of young unemployed South Africans who were looking to him for leadership. In fact, it is just further evidence that COSATU has succeeded in killing the President's own announced and budgeted for policy, which would have created over 100,000 new jobs.
The National Development Plan:
President Zuma did not respond to the concerns of MPs over his failure to provide an outline for the implementation of the NDP. More worryingly, he instead said that existing plans, which contradict the NDP, such as the New Growth Path, still exist - just under the 'umbrella' of the NDP. The NDP cannot just be an 'umbrella'. It must be implemented fully - and it should be the only plan for South Africa.
The DA again welcomes his strong condemnation of rape and his agreement that South Africa needs a national dialogue on the matter. But the lack of detail in addressing how his government would fight the scourge of sexual offences was extended into his speech this afternoon. South Africans need to know President Zuma's government will fight against crime on every front, but the key concerns relating to SAPS training, lack of quality detectives, and the low conviction rate were not even given passing mention. Neither was the abuse of leadership at the highest levels of the criminal justice system.
President Zuma did not address questions over how he intends to hold teachers accountable for learner outcomes. His failure to do so and to answer for his intentional spin-doctoring of declaring teaching an 'essential service' are indicative of a President who is out of touch with the people on the ground. Nowhere is this more evident than in his continued failure to provide an unconditional assurance that the textbook crises in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape will never be allowed to happen again under his watch.
Corruption and Nkandla:
President Zuma's complete failure to mention Nkandla at all during his SONA address is shameful. The spending of R206 million on the upgrade of his private residence will remain a symbol of the high-level corruption in his government, until such time as he provides answers for how he let this happen, endorses a full parliamentary inquiry into the matter, and makes public the Public Works report. He also again missed an opportunity to end the now-14 month vacancy of the Head of Special Investigating Unit. The dragging of his feet on this critical appointment will have disastrous implications for the fight against corruption.
The DA will use every mechanism available to ensure that President Zuma and his government are held accountable for the promises he makes to South Africans every year.
South Africa cannot afford six more wasted years. It is time to put South Africa first.
Lindiwe Mazibuko, Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance