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Cablegate: South African State of the Nation Address

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

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Summary
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1. (SBU) South African President Jacob Zuma, relying heavily on the
legacy of former President Nelson Mandela (also known here by his
clan name: "Madiba"), on February 11 gave his second State of the
Nation address since assuming office last May. The South African
leader came into the speech somewhat embattled because of his recent
confession that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. Zuma's
speech was short on specifics but he continued the African National
Congress's (ANC) themes of addressing issues such as job creation,
education, health, fighting crime, and rural development and land
reform. Zuma did not go into great detail about foreign policy or
one of the most controversial elements of domestic policy - the
criminal justice system. The key theme of Zuma's address was the
promise that his administration would "work faster, harder and
smarter." How these goals would be achieved, however, left most in
the crowd wondering. End Summary.

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Zuma "Wraps Himself in the Cloak of Mandela"
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Zuma took great pains to associate himself with the legacy
of former President Nelson Mandela (who was in the audience) on the
day marking the 20th anniversary of the former prisoner's release.
Zuma said, "Inspired by our icon Madiba, it is my honor to dedicate
this 2010 State of the Nation Address, to all our heroes and
heroines, sung and unsung, known and unknown." Zuma quoted
Mandela's statements at length and made remarks to underscore
reconciliation in South Africa. Zuma pushed for all South Africans
to recommit themselves to reconciliation, national unity,
non-racialism and building a better future together as South
Africans.

3. (SBU) He praised former President P.W. Botha for taking small
steps in the process to have Mandela released and acknowledged the
roles played by the legal team following the infamous "Rivonia
Trial" in which Mandela was sentenced to prison. Zuma also paid
tribute to the roles played by Oliver Tambo and Inkatha Freedom
Party President Mangosuthu Buthelezi. He also said, "In November
this year, we will mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of
Indians in South Africa. It provides an opportunity to recognise the
important contribution of the Indian community in the fields of
labour, business, science, sports, religion, arts, culture and the
achievement and consolidation of our democracy."

4. (SBU) The South African leader used his remarks about
reconciliation to look forward, saying the hosting of the FIFA World
Cup makes 2010 truly a year of action. He said, "The
infrastructure, security and logistics arrangements are in place to
ensure a successful tournament. As a nation we owe a debt of
gratitude to the 2010 Local Organising Committee for their sterling
effort." At this point, Zuma named the individuals of the
committee, including Irvin Khoza, with whose daughter Zuma recently
acknowledged fathering a daughter. His reference to Khoza drew
laughs from the legislative floor. Zuma tied his remarks on the
FIFA World Cup back to Mandela by saying, "President Mandela was
central in assisting the country to win the rights to host this
great event. We therefore have to make the World Cup a huge success
in his honor."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Zuma Says South Africa's Economy Improving, But Fragile
--------------------------------------------- ----------


5. (SBU) Zuma addressed the state of the South African economy
Q5. (SBU) Zuma addressed the state of the South African economy
throughout his remarks. (Note: Some commentators and political
analysts criticized him for not providing more specific details on
what the government would do to address the economy, but other
commentators argued that the lack of detail was because Finance
Minister Pravin Gordhan intends to address specific programs in his
budget speech next week. End Note.) The South African leader said
economic indicators suggest South Africa is turning the corner on
recovery. He added economic activity is rising in South Africa and
labor statistics show the economy is now creating jobs rather than
shedding them. He warned, however, that it is still too soon to be
certain of the pace of recovery and that the government would not
withdraw its support measures.

6. (SBU) Zuma noted the economy lost 900,000 jobs throughout the
global recession, with many of the lost positions being filled by
family breadwinners. Zuma announced two measures to help ease
problems from the recession. First, he called for a "safety
cushion" for the poor in the form of extended child support grants
to children more than 14 years of age. He estimated these grants
would provide for an additional two million children from poor
households. Second, he said the Industrial Development Corporation
would put aside several million dollars to help companies in

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distress. He also said the government would help companies by
introducing a "training lay-off scheme," which would allow workers
the option of a period of training instead of retrenchment.

7. (SBU) Zuma discussed the work being done by the Public Works
ministry. He said the government came close to meeting the goals
set out by the Public Works ministry in the Expanded Public Works
Program. The government reportedly created some 480,000 out of a
target of 500,000 jobs - mainly in the fields of construction, home
and community based care, and environmental projects. Zuma
acknowledged the jobs are not jobs in the mainstream economy. He
did note, however, that over the next three years, the government
would spend millions of dollars on public infrastructure. He added
that the government wants to maintain and expand its road network
and ensure the rail network is reliable, competitive and better
integrated with seaports. He said he has established an
Inter-Ministerial Committee on Energy to develop a 20-year
integrated resource plan that would ensure reliable power supply.
The committee is set to look at the participation of independent
power producers and at protecting the poor from rising electricity
prices. Zuma promised the state electricity supplier, Eskom, would
continue to build additional generation capacity and improve the
maintenance of its power stations.

8. (SBU) Zuma said the government has established the Broad-Based
Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council, which will be chaired
by the President, to ensure the promotion of an inclusive economy
and to aid growth and development. He added his administration's
most urgent focus of policy change is the creation of jobs for young
people as unemployment rates for young people are substantially
higher than the average. He promised that proposals would be tabled
to subsidise the cost of hiring younger workers and to encourage
firms to take on inexperienced staff. (Note: Democratic Alliance
leader Helen Zille pointedly told reporters after the address that
this idea "came straight out of her party's policies." End Note.)
The South African leader said the government's newly launched
National Youth Development Agency would work faster to establish its
structures throughout the country so it can assist the
administration to mainstream youth development programs within the
government.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Education Remains Critical to South Africa's Goals
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (SBU) Zuma said the administration placed education and skills
development at the center of this government's policies. He said,
"In our 2010 program, we want to improve the ability of our children
to read, write and count in the foundation years. Unless we do
this, we will not improve the quality of education." He said the
government wants learners and teachers to be in school, in class, on
time, learning and teaching for seven hours a day. He added, "We
will assist teachers by providing detailed daily lesson plans. To
students, we will provide easy-to-use workbooks in all 11 languages.
From this year onwards, all grade 3, 6 and 9 students will write
literacy and numeracy tests that are independently moderated." Zuma
said his government's goal is to increase the pass rate for these
tests from the current average of between 35-40 percent to at least
60 percet^q275,000 a year by 2014."

10. (SBU) The South African Government plans to increase the
training of 16-25 year olds in continuing education programs. He
said, "This will enable us to provide a second chance at education,
for those who do not qualify for university." He promised that the
government would work with higher education institutions to ensure
eligible students obtain financial assistance through the National
Student Financial Aid Scheme.

--------------------------------------------- ---
The Push for Better Health for All Will Continue
--------------------------------------------- ---

11. (SBU) Zuma said, "Another key outcome is to ensure a long and
healthy life for all South Africans." He said his government would
continue to improve our health care system. He added that this
would include building and upgrading hospitals and clinics and
further improving the working conditions of health care workers. He
said, "We have partnered with the Development Bank of Southern
Africa (DBSA) to improve the functionality of public hospitals and
their district offices. We are also collaborating with the DBSA and
the Industrial Development Corporation, in a Public-Private
Partnership program to improve hospitals and provide finance for
projects." He said the government must confront the fact that life
expectancy at birth has dropped from 60 years in 1994 to just below
50 years today. He promised the government would make interventions
to lower maternal mortality rates, reduce new HIV infections and
effectively treat HIV and tuberculosis. Zuma vowed the government

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would implement all the undertakings made on World Aids Day relating
to new HIV prevention and treatment measures. He also stated, "We
will also continue preparations for the establishment of a national
health insurance system."

-----------------------------------
Zuma Mentions Crime, But Barely
-----------------------------------

12. (SBU) Zuma said his government is working hard to ensure that
everyone in South Africa feels safe, and is safe. He promised that
his administration would work to reduce serious and violent crimes
and ensure the justice system works efficiently. He said, "We are
implementing plans to increase the number of police men and women by
10% over the next three years. We have identified the fight against
hijacking, business and house robberies, as well as contact crimes
such as murder, rape, and assault, as top priorities." Beyond these
remarks, however, Zuma did not address his government's plans to
reduce violent crime. Business Day political analyst Wyndham
Hartley said, "There was no mention of the much vaunted criminal
justice system and no indication of progress made or possible
changes."

--------------------------------------------- -
Improved Service Delivery Remains a Priority
--------------------------------------------- -

13. (SBU) After a year of numerous violent service delivery
protests, Zuma did not shy away from the fact the government must to
do more to meet people's needs. He said, "Local government must
work." He ordered that municipalities must improve the provision of
housing, water, sanitation, electricity, waste management and roads.
He added that across the country a number of issues have already
received attention (in part, he claimed, because of his newly
launched presidential hotline). However, he warned, "There are no
grievances that can justify violence and the destruction of
property. We have directed law enforcement agencies to take a
tougher stance on lawlessness in Balfour and other areas." He
pointed out that in December 2009 the Cabinet approved a turnaround
strategy for local government. He said, "This will ensure that
local government has the correct management, administrative and
technical skills." He promised the government is working to upgrade
well-located informal settlements and provide proper service and
land tenure to at least 500,000 households by 2014 and said his
administration plans to set aside over 6 000 hectares of
well-located public land for low income and affordable housing.

--------------------------------------------- -
Zuma Promises a New Way of Monitoring Progress
--------------------------------------------- -

14. (SBU) The South African President said the administration is
building a performance-oriented state by improving planning as well
as performance monitoring and evaluation. (Note: When Zuma made
this remark, the cameras in the National Assembly flashed to
Minister in the Presidency for Planning Trevor Manuel and Minister
in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins
Chabane. End Note.) Zuma said the work of departments would be
measured by outcomes developed by the Cabinet and through the newly
established performance monitoring and evaluation system. He said
the system "will outline what is to be done, how, by whom, within
what time period and using what measurements and resources."

----------------------------------------
Other Areas Receive Only Brief References
----------------------------------------

15. (SBU) Zuma did not touch at length on other South African
Q15. (SBU) Zuma did not touch at length on other South African
domestic and foreign priorities. He said more houses would be built
to encourage rural development and agricultural development. He
said South Africa would continue to pursue programs that would lead
to a reduction in water wastage and would push for greater
individual food production. He promised a decrease in
communications costs - including reductions for broadband, cell
phone, landline and public phone rates. He also said the government
would continue to curb corruption. (Note: His lack of great
attention to corruption in the speech is somewhat surprising as many
commentators and political analysts expected it to be a main focus
of his address. End Note.)

16. (SBU) On foreign policy, Zuma vowed to work with international
partners - including the United States - toward a legally binding
treaty on climate change. He said, "As South Africa we have
voluntarily committed ourselves to specific emission reduction
targets, and will continue working on our long term climate change
mitigation strategy." He also said the government would intensify
efforts to promote the interests of South Africa globally, support
efforts to speed up the political and economic integration of the
Southern Africa Development Community and promote intra-regional
trade and investment. He noted that South Africa continues to play
a leading role in continental efforts to strengthen the African

CAPE TOWN 00000029 004 OF 004


Union and its organs and to work for unity and promised that
Pretoria would focus energy on revitalising the New Partnership for
Africa's Development as a strategy for economic development on the
continent.

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Comment
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17. (SBU) Zuma's address relied heavily on the legacy of Mandela to
give a speech that was short on specifics but carried forward the
ANC's themes of addressing issues such as job creation, education,
health, fighting crime, and rural development and land reform. In
the short term, the speech deflected some of the negative attention
Zuma has been receiving for his extra-marital affairs and reminded
South Africans about their history of liberation. Over the longer
term, it remains to be seen whether the government makes progress -
or reveals details - on its domestic agenda or whether foreign
policy will ever be as important under Zuma as it was under former
President Thabo Mbeki.


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