DELEGATES GRACE PLAYHOUSE THEATRE FOR STATE OF THE NATIONS ADDRESS
By: Tinashe Watungwa and Tony Manyangadze
The eThekwini Municipality yesterday hosted delegates from Angola together with members of the media at the Playhouse Theater in Durban for a live screening of the 2013 State of the Nation Address.
The meeting created a social platform for news bearers to discuss with officials as they witnessed the address delivered by President Jacob Zuma. Councilor Fawzia Peer, standing in for Mayor James Nxumalo who was not present at the gathering, said the State of the Nation Address served as a chance for the government to assess how far the country has gone in terms of achieving its long and short term plans and to set new objectives.
“The State of the Nation Address is an opportunity for the president to take stock of the country, and to see what is needed for it to progress,” said Peer.
While the elegantly dressed President Zuma shared his plans for the country for the year 2013, he turned his eyes to the empowerment of women, which he said is a critical priority for the government. “The Bill on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment has been approved by Cabinet for public comment. The Bill criminalizes practices that have adverse effects on women and girls,” said Zuma.
He went on to say that the Bill would also advance equality of men and women in society. “It legislates the 50/50 policy position with regard to the representation of women in decision making structure.”
The recent societal and moral woes were not left unturned. While commenting on the brutal gang-rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, President Zuma said there was a strong need to end the abuse, rape and murder of women that has marred South Africa.
“The brutality and cruelty meted out to defenseless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country,” Zuma said.The president assured the nation that mechanisms such as the Protection from Harassment Bill and the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill were passed by the National Assembly which, according to the address, would protect women from the abuse and rape that has recently taken charge in the country.
Other issues covered in the 2013 speech had been included in the previous address, which include the health sector. The president stated that the first group of approximately 600 private medical practitioners would be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts, which added to the National Health Insurance Fund to be created in 2014.
The Educational sector was also classified as a top priority in the president’s address. This emanates from the textbook sagas that were revealed last year in the Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces. Even though the matric class of 2012 saw an increase in the pass rate, a lot can still be done for even better, noted Zuma.
“The Department of Basic Education will establish a national task team to strengthen the implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy”.
The land reform issue, which has been a priority since 1994, remained top on the government’s list this year.
“We must shorten the time it takes to finalise a claim……. Government will now pursue the just and equitable principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution, instead of the willing buyer willing seller principle,” he added.
Despite the promising future based on the president’s address, there were however mixed feelings following the speech by the president. While others were delighted with the plans set out by the government, some still feel that it was a repeat of the 2012 address.