The South African Presidents past indiscretions come back to haunt him at the State of the Nation address
2014 was a year that saw the South African parliament plunge into chaos. The new opposition party, the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) took the president to task over massive overspending on his personal residence.
The public protector investigated the matter and found that President Jacob Zumas and his family had benefited unduly from taxpayer funds and recommended that he pay some of it back.
To date the president has failed to act on the public protector’s recommendation or bring closure to the matter. As a result the EFF has committed to disrupting the state of the nation address later this week by demanding answers on the matter.
The president held a press conference in preparation for the state of the nation address and when asked what he would do if the EFF leader Julius Malema interrupted proceedings, he answered, “I will be guided by the speaker.” She interprets the rules of parliament. And all parliament members should honor the directions given to them by the speaker.
The scandal may be important to the EFF as a means to slam the president; however, there are more important matters for the president to address. Among these are instability in the top rungs of both the South African Revenue Service and the Hawks, an organization put in place to root out corruption.
When asked about these organizations at the press conference the president replied “In any country you would be worried . . . you don’t want structures like SARS and the Hawks to have problems, therefore if they have problems, you have to be worried.” But, of course, they are being managed, and “the situation is not out of control, it is under control.”
Perhaps the most pressing issue up for discussion is the current electricity crisis that has significantly hampered the productivity of South African businesses over the past year. The crisis was brought on by the state owned energy provider Eskom neglecting routine maintenance and failing to upgrade its facilities to keep up with demand. This was in spite of the “1998 White Paper on Electricity Policy” which predicted we would run out at the end of 2007.
The president’s response to this was “If the blame is solely to government, to say this government is a failure, there is no leadership, that is why there is load shedding, is the wrong answer to the question.”
In anticipation of President Jacob Zumas speech on Thursday one can only wonder if the day will be dominated by theatrics, tactful maneuvering around questions or will we see an honest representation of the State of the Nation?
Matthew Klynsmith earned a business administration diploma at CTI in Cape Town, South Africa. He now works at Strategic Options as an associate partner. To read more reports from Matthew Klynsmith, Go Here Now.
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