By Odette Ismail Tando Mfengwana
09 February 2007
There has been a wide reaction from opposition parties after President Thabo Mbeki’s State of the Nation Address today in Parliament.
While some are giving the president a thumbs- up others say they will have to see after the Budget speech to tell if this holds value.
ID leader Patricia de Lille says “Well he acknowledged that there are many challenges facing us regarding poverty…on the issue of crime he also acknowledged that crime is a problem; however he did not mention anything about the arms deal.”
De Lille says he missed an opportunity to call on the nation to unite against crime.
Mbeki spoke about the rate of growth over the past two years and how this is the highest since South Africa’s democracy. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi says time will only tell if this is true.
“ Promises of course is okay, but one needs to wait and see this time next year whether in fact to an extent all of those things have been implemented and to the extent of AsgiSA( Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative), but I think it’s a very good initiative on the part of government.” , says Buthelezi.
Parliamentary spokesperson for the ANC Smuts Ngonyama says that the president did not run away from the issue of education.
Mbeki spoke about the progress of the recapitalisation of Further Education and training. He says this year resources will be made available for financial assistance to trainees who need it so that they can enter the courses.
National Democratic Convention Spokesperson Gavin Woods said that he said, in terms of crime the president cannot satisfy hysterical white electorate, “but I think if we look carefully and had a more realistic idea of what’s causing crime, maybe, will pass him on that one.”
The president in his speech said that the annual reduction rate of contact crime is still below the 7-10 percent targeted by government.
Professor Kader Asmal said that the speech was more comprehensive that he thought it would be, “the are four very important elements concerning crime for example, I think the checking up on what we promised in 1994, and what we’ve been able to deliver, it was enormously important. As an educationist I’m also very pleased that there has been this reference to further education and training.
Mbeki said that more effort will be placed in improving the functioning of court in the country, to reduce case backlogs.
ACDP leader Rev Kenneth Moshoe said that the speech had many generalities and a few specifics, “particularly in the area of how crime is going to be reduced in South Africa… and the issue of accelerating the campaign against HIV/Aids, is a general statement, but how government is going to reduce new HIV infections.
Foreign Affairs minister says that individual minister have still to elaborate on what the president delivered on his speech. He had a good balance of all the issues that government is dealing with, all its priorities, all delivery, transformation and international issues.