South Africa’s main Parliamentary opposition party has given President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address a cool reception, saying it was vague on curbing crime and socialist in orientation.
Party police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said Zuma appeared intent on further centralising government, including the police.
According to her this meant that the need for specialised crime fighting units, “which are so urgently required in dealing with many of the most serious types of crimes”, continued to be ignored.
“It is also bemusing to note that President Zuma stated that the ANC`s decision to rename the Ministry of Safety and Security [to Police] would ‘contribute to the reduction of serious and violent crimes`.”
Kohler Barnard said this gave off “the impression that the President is more interested in trying to find easy shortcuts, than doing the hard work by developing a concrete strategy to deal with the serious problems in our Police Service”.
She added that instead of providing leadership and a clear path, Zuma “fell back on the vague remarks previously made by his predecessors about all working together to fight crime, and admitted failure by saying that the ANC now needs to establish an integrated, modernised, properly-resourced and well-managed criminal justice system.
The DA MP said SA`s poor position in the Global Peace Index clearly showed that the “crime problem … warrants a decisive new approach. … South Africans are being murdered at a rate of 52 a day, and solid leadership and concrete assurances were called for. This was a golden opportunity lost.”
Party Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said the speech marked “a very particular and distinct ideological shift towards a socialist agenda.”
Trollip said Zuma`s term is office would see a dramatic increase in social spending and the promotion of an industrial policy that would hinder real economic growth and the creation of jobs.
“As a consequence, there is a very real concern that this government will not be able to properly finance its programme of action and that, among other things, our budget deficit will grow significantly,” he said.
Trollip however commended Zuma for admitting “grave challenges when it comes to issues like HIV/Aids and our skills deficit.”
He said Zuma “distinguished himself from his predecessor, who often denied the extent or threat of problems such of those.”
Meanwhile, the Business Report newspaper says some of Zuma`s plans have also left
economists and analysts perplexed.
Economists said some of the employment and other targets set “were virtually impossible.”