State of the nation

8:24:51 pm - Thu 10 Feb

All done. We’re signing out. Check out the www.mg.co.za for stories, videos and photographs.

8:22:26 pm - Thu 10 Feb

“Let there be peace for all.” Makes me think of the Christian song “Let there be love shared amongst us.” A song the Zuma spouses (or is that spice?) knows very well.

8:17:12 pm - Thu 10 Feb

National icons will be honoured – big question is if Mbeki will be included in that programme. And what will we say about him, especially when it comes to why he had to leave the Union Buildings early.

8:14:02 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Everyone in the room sees “Sudan” as code for “Cope” with all the secession business going on in both cases. And Shilowa and Lekota both laugh nervously

8:12:24 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Fencesitting is the name of the game it seems for international developments – we are “monitoring” happenings in Egypt and Tunisia. But I suppose no state wants to think too hard about that – always the fear that it might happen to  them

8:10:54 pm - Thu 10 Feb

The part that Zuma saidabout international issues – Zim etc – is, I think , a cut and paste job from last year’s speech. But we don’t pay him to  be original

8:09:30 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Floods of money coming to natural disaster victims in South  Africa – all of R800 million. Maybe more is needed, but it is better than(keep in mind again the local government elections and the need to be a caring government)

8:07:18 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Hmmm, if you can get a quick ID (legally), you can still register for local government elections. Zuma won’t name the date yet, but slyly refers to “end of May”. He is like a modern suitor for the love-stricken voter, gives something, but not too much..

8:03:31 pm - Thu 10 Feb

More than 7000 rural young people is part of the National  Rural Youth Service Corps – wonder what do they do? And are they all Youth  league members?

8:02:13 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Five million people got tested after JZ did so. Wonder how many will go if Zille is tested? Now that will spice up mentioned local government election campaign…

8:00:00 pm - Thu 10 Feb

More nurses, more doctors and more bobbies on the beat, the local government elections campaign will be a breeze for Zuma

7:58:14 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma “About R44 million has been recovered from public servants who are illegally benefiting from housing subsidies, while the cleaning of the social grants system of fraud is also continuing.”

7:54:44 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma reiterates the three Ts of education: teaching, textbooks and time… same call as last year but the strikes put paid to that idea.

7:51:49 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Big clapping as Zuma announces that the The National Youth Development agency is in “discussion with state organs and the private sector to mainstream youth development in public sector programmes and to promote youth enterprises and cooperatives”.

Can he promise that the agency will stop being a feeding trough for Youth League members, staging failed and exorbitantly expensive festivals?

7:43:52 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Oh dear… Zuma, trips over a complex surname from the Facebook page again. His speech writer should’ve thought better before quoting someone named “Mrwetyana”. Even if she did ask the very pertinent question: “What I wanna know is why treat us differently, but we give you the same vote, WHY?”.

People don’t quite know whether to laugh or clap as Zuma chuckles after the question. Ah the snares of social media…

7:40:23 pm - Thu 10 Feb

“More than 7, 3 million tourists arrived in South Africa last year, as compared to about 6.3 million in 2009.” So that was one million more thanks to the World Cup?

7:36:07 pm - Thu 10 Feb

We’re on to mining now, while the industry’s indaba happens down the road. Carefully side-stepping nationalisation while talking big on reaping the benefits for the country.

Our mineral assets are valued at a whopping 2.5 trillion US dollars, apparently, while the industry formed 30% of the country’s total export revenue in 2009. Zuma’s talking beneficiation as an official policy of government while endorsing “the African Exploration, Mining and Finance Corporation as the State Owned Mining Company, that will undertake the mining of minerals of strategic significance.”

7:31:47 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma on small and medium businesses: “We are therefore considering merging the three agencies Khula, the SA Micro-Finance Apex Fund and the IDC’s small business funding into a single unit.” Stirring and clapping from the house.

7:29:52 pm - Thu 10 Feb

So far, reaction from the media:

Deputy Editor of the Daily Maverick Philip de Wet says on Twitter:

“@phillipdewet: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Zuma can be brilliant, even mesmerising off the cuff. But he sucks at reading out speeches.’

While EWN reporter Stephen Grootes notes that Zuma is “sounding so much better than last year”.

7:25:55 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Now this is interesting. Zuma commits to Ministers announcing their targets “and more specific details per sector” in their forthcoming budget vote speeches. It’s been hard to pin down ministers on the targets Zuma has set for them previously.

7:23:36 pm - Thu 10 Feb

And now we’re on to the real meat of the speech: “We have declared 2011 a year of job creation through meaningful economic transformation and inclusive growth.” Decent work gets a mention too, keeping the left happy. For now.

7:21:26 pm - Thu 10 Feb

And now Zuma uses a story left on the Presidency Facebook page about a citizen struggling with burst sewerage pipes. The social networking buzzwords are flying left, right and centre. Wonder who’s responsible for the new social media awareness in the Presidency?

7:18:55 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma’s boast numbers so far in his address:

- About 15 million South Africans on social grants

- 81% of the country is electrified up from 63% in 2000

- Murder rates down by 8,6% since last year

- Budget deficit set to decline from 6,7% at present to between 3 and 4% by 2013.

7:16:27 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga looks solemn as Zuma boasts about the surprise increase in the matric pass rate last year. The booing from disbelieving opposition MPs is probably louder from where she’s sitting.

7:14:27 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma brags about the institutions that are working in the country… IEC, judiciary. And then a nod to the media “whose freedoms are enshrined in the Constitution”. Hesitation, and then clapping from the house. Were they waiting for a “but”?

7:11:23 pm - Thu 10 Feb

A homage to Tata Madiba and a note about the recent health scare from Zuma, followed by a plea for privacy. “We owe him that much given his love of this country and its people, and the contribution he has made to South Africa, Africa and the world.”

7:00:04 pm - Thu 10 Feb

No sign of Zuma’s first wife, Ma Khumalo. Instead he seems to be accompanied by his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

4:54:37 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Former spokesperson for the department of Higher Education Ranjeni Munusamy noted on Twitter that blue seems to be the signature colour for all the women on the red carpet this year. She may be on to something. Home affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma walks behind Zuma in a royal blue suit.

4:50:09 pm - Thu 10 Feb

Zuma makes his way up the red carpet in a matching tie with a military accompaniment.

4:45:02 pm - Thu 10 Feb

For all the Presidency’s bragging about speeches prepared on iPads and Twitter feedback ahead of the address, the newly DG-ed communications department still failed to get media the speech at 6pm as promised. Major fail, and no thanks from newspapers with a Thursday evening deadline…

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