Zuma optimistic about economic growth

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma delivered his last State Of The Nation Address at the joint sitting of the people’s parliament on Thursday night.

Even through the business of the day was delayed due to disruptions by opposition parties, the president finally outlined the state the nation is currently in.

The president opened by paying tribute to the former president of the ruling party Oliver Reginald Tambo who would have turned 100 years old this year.

In his honour, we have declared the year 2017, the Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo. It is the year of unity in action by all South Africans as we move South Africa forward together,” said Zuma.

On issues of the economy, the president is optimistic that this year the country’s economy will see some growth despite uncertainty in the global economic environment.

He forecasts a 1.3% growth but expressed concerns over the snail-paced economic growth which is failing to create sufficient jobs.

He said, “It is for this reason that we decided to focus on a few key areas packaged as the Nine Point Plan to reignite growth, so that the economy can create much-needed jobs.

“The focus areas include industrialisation, mining, and beneficiation, agriculture and agro-processing, energy, SMMEs, managing workplace conflict, attracting investments, growing the oceans economy and tourism.”

As anticipated by many, the president could not finish his speech without touching on the issue of educations.

The funding challenge in the higher education sector is one of the burning issues these days. Protests against fee increase have given birth to the #FeesMustFall movement and other students to call for free quality higher education.

“All students who qualify for NSFAS and who have been accepted by universities and TVET colleges will be funded. The university debt of NSFAS qualifying students for 2013, 2014 and 2015 academic years has been addressed.

 “In total, the government has reprioritised 32 billion rands within government baselines to support higher education,” said the president.

 Zuma ended by promising the nation that government will not waste time in acting on the recommendations of the commission set up to look into the possibility of higher education.

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Mzwandile Khathi

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