16 February 2014

South Africa: Sona Is a Platform to Report On Administration - Zuma

President Jacob Zuma says his State of the Nation Address earlier this week was a platform for him to give a report on what his administration had done in the past five years as well as an account of what had been achieved in the 20 years of democracy.

In an interview with SABC on Sunday evening, Zuma explained that his address was a chance to speak about government's achievements without revealing its plans for the future.

He said government's strategies moving forward would be revealed after the May elections when the newly-elected President of the Republic would be called upon to deliver their State of the Nation Address. This speech would outline their plans for their term of office.

Following his sixth State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament, some reports had criticised the speech for not emphasising what government planned to do going forward.

"I made it very clear that we were giving a report, first of the 20 years [of the democratic government] ... but also a report on the past five years given that in 2009 we said these were the things we were going to do and we have indicated what we have done. That was the main purpose of the SONA on Thursday," said the President.

He said he had made it clear that SONA was a report.

During the interview, Zuma said critics needed to understand that he did not omit any future plans from the speech.

"We are not presenting what we are going to do in the coming administration. That is still coming. I actually specifically helped people to understand that, because I did not want any ambiguity - this is a report, as I have said, we are finishing a term, we are finishing 20 years," said Zuma.

He added that the presentation of future plans was still coming and that to speak on future plans would be putting the cart before the horse.

The main message of the SONA was that South Africa is a better place to live in today than it was in 1994.

Regarding the recent spate of protests linked to service delivery, Zuma said many of the protests were caused because government had not communicated clearly to citizens.

"People do communicate, but it is the manner in which people communicate. I have heard many people saying: 'We are strained by the budget, we don't have a budget'. People may not understand what we are talking about ... all that it means is that we don't have enough now but it is coming.

"So firstly, it may be the manner in which people communicate. Secondly, it may be how often people communicate, how clearly they communicate that," he said.

He said besides communication, protests were usually not caused by the failure of government, but by the success of government to deliver services in other areas - resulting in residents that were still awaiting services to lose patience.

In some instances, like the recent water situation in the North West, individuals sabotaged government by tampering with pumps in order to create an opportunity for their businesses to get tenders to deliver water via water tanks.

In other cases, community leaders caused protests for political ambitions.

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