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The pressure’s on for Zuma

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With President Jacob Zuma set to deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of 2014 on Tuesday evening, political analyst Andre Duvenhage has predicted the focus point of the address will be on economic and social transformation. SONA is likely to be overshadowed by concerns over Zuma’s health, after being admitted to hospital on June 7th for severe exhaustion. Zuma spent most of the past week resting, to recover from what the Presidency described as a demanding schedule. Duvenhage suggested there would be a big interest in the president’s health, and whether there was a succession plan in place should he step down.

He also made the bold prediction that Zuma would likely not complete his second term in office, giving the president two years before stepping down from the position. This according to him, would bring about a lot of political moves on the top level of government to ensure a successor, suggesting the ‘political elite’ were not entirely convinced deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was the ideal person for the role.

The second factor dominating Tuesday’s SONA address is the current state of the country’s economy and the lack of economic development, which according to Duvenhage was at its worst since the recession in 2008/2009.

“Our general economy is facing a lot of pressure, and so are the state’s finances. So someway, directly or indirectly, that is going to impact on SONA,” he said.

Discussing the likely policy content of Zuma’s address, Duvenhage predicted a strong focus on issues like poverty alleviation, job creation, land reform, better healthcare and education, as well as better social security amongst others. The main beneficiaries of this according to him would be the poor, the youth, women and military veterans.

“My main expectations are that there is going to be a strong drive from the state, who will define for themselves a developmental role in order to bring about these changes,” he claimed.

The address comes on the back of a much talked about wage dispute in the platinum mining sector, that has resulted in a crippling strike. Duvenhage suggested there would be comments in Zuma’s address regarding the issue of wages, but general strategy of the government will be in terms of the national development plan. However, he said it was not out of context to actually expect some form of policy change on labour laws, to address the wage issue.

“I think we have seen in the platinum belt that the labour laws are not proving to be effective and efficient as far as labour unrest is concerned. So I’m expecting a stronger approach coming from government,” he said,” VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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