Categorized | Earlier Stories

The state of the nation

No commitment in state of the nation address before elections….

Most know the state of the nation, so the question  was really what President Jacob Zuma had to say about it and was a rabbit going to come out of the hat.

For the mining industry and the trade unions there were indeed some specific statements but for the rest, the state of the nation address was sadly a hodge-podge of known facts, most of it un-related to the year under review. Nothing particularly new emerged.

Furthermore, very little looked into the future, other than a surprising reference to both the possibility of nuclear development, with no timings given, and fracking, mentioning Shell by name and calling such development “a game changer”. Otherwise, general industry and commerce, trade and industry and agriculture might not have existed.

Cumulative numbers

Clearly, with an election coming and such a poor record behind him, President Zuma chose the option of saying nothing of consequence, other than to blame  current unrest in some areas as being due to success in others. Furthermore, much of the statistical success claimed by him in the state’s performance referred to the period since the ANC came to power, thus subtly once again referring to the bogeyman of apartheid.

Sadly, it was “nothing” speech, just simply delivered better than in the past.

The nation therefore seems to remain in exactly the same state as it was before; that is – without strong leadership; without any message to the international world that that South Africa is interested in doing business, and with legislation in the pipeline indicating a strong leaning by most of its cabinet members towards national socialism.

Lost opportunities

On the bright side, South Africa remains still one of the greatest countries to live in and according to the numbers, to visit. Nevertheless, the “lost opportunity factor” is growing; nobody seeming to get a grip on corruption and the slow slide downwards a failure of service delivery (which cannot be blamed on the US recovery and the effect on emerging countries) not happening.

Dr Wolsey Barnard of department of energy possibly summed up the problem, although unrelated to the address last night, in his report to the portfolio energy committee on the departments’ performance for the third quarter, contained in this report, when he said that South Africa has lost 3,000 engineers in the last ten years.

He also said it took Eskom twelve long hours to get a required licence to enter a defaulting municipal area to solve power problems at Richards Bay, closed down because of a power line fault in a municipal area and where overheating was causing an ammonia storage plant to overheat, thus threatening the area with an ammonia gas discharge.

Twelve hours of demurrage on dozens of vessels standing off at sea at South Africa’s largest export port because of municipal licence needed by Eskom to enter the area.

Somehow President’s Zuma’s speech  seemed strangely unrelated to what is actually going on in South Africa.

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