By: Chris Bathembu
When President Jacob Zuma takes to the podium to deliver this year’s State of the Nation Address tonight, he is expected to tell South Africans how the proposed National Development Plan will help the country facilitate economic growth and job creation.
Zuma will deliver the annual address during a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament tonight at 7pm to allow more South Africans to access the live broadcast.
The Cape Town city centre has been abuzz with activity preparing for the ceremony, with several streets leading Parliament expected to be closed to normal traffic this afternoon.
Parliament said this week the event would once again involve a mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort, the lining of the President’s route by the South African National Defence Force, a national salute by the Ceremonial Guard of the SANDF and a military band, a salute flight by the South African Air Force and a 21-gun salute.
Former Presidents, Judge Presidents, premiers, provincial speakers, members of the executive council, diplomats and former presiding officers of Parliament are expected to attend.
The speech tonight is important as it gives South Africans an overview of what the government has done and plans to do to improve their lives.
South Africa has had a busy year with labour strikes, most notably in the mining sector, as well as several service delivery protests. Zuma’s speech is likely to shed light on how government will be responding to the challenges in the mining industry, considered the backbone of South Africa’s economy.
“He will share with us the focus of NDP (National Development Plan) beyond just what we can get from the plan but the practical steps that are being taken to implement and realise everything in it,” Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel, told SAnews.
Manuel emphasised that the plan required strong leadership from government, the private sector as well as civil society.
“We need everyone on board; we cannot do things on behalf of people but we can’t expect people to do things without our support,” he said.
Apart from aiming to reduce unemployment from 25% to 6% by 2030, the NDP document proposes that the state expand public employment programmes to one million participants by 2015 and two million by 2020.
But with many in the private sector pinning their hopes on the planned infrastructure programme for the country, Zuma is also expected to herald details for the roll-out plan of government’s R1 trillion infrastructure projects, announced by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission last year.
In what is believed to be the biggest ever infrastructure build programme undertaken by the government since 1994, authorities have identified 18 strategic integrated projects, covering more than 150 specific infrastructure interventions, ranging across rail, road, ports, dams, irrigation systems, sanitation and energy.