A Pragmatic State of the Nation Address by President Zuma

A read of the State of the Nation Address, without the antics and drama, that went with it gives one a sense that Government has toned down its promises. It has also acknowledged the energy crises that South Africa faces. Government has in a measured way indicated that it will deal with this in the short, medium and long term.

A longer term solution that ABSIP at the Presidential Business Summit, submitted, amongst others, to Government in August 2013, was the facilitation of the Grand Inga III Hydro-electric project. Government has since then actively worked on facilitating this important renewable resource. President Zuma indicated that the Grand Inga Hydro-electric Project partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo will generate over 48,000 megawatts of clean hydro-electricity. South Africa will have access to over 15,000 megawatts. ABSIP welcomes this endeavour by Government.

To create economic growth and jobs President Zuma presented a nine point plan:
1. Resolving the energy challenge.
2. Revitalizing agriculture and the agro-processing value chain.
3. Advancing beneficiation or adding value to our mineral wealth.
4. More effective implementation of a higher impact Industrial Policy Action Plan.
5. Encouraging private sector investment.
6. Moderating workplace conflict.
7. Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, township and rural enterprises.
8. State reform and boosting the role of state owned companies, ICT infrastructure or broadband roll out, water, sanitation and transport infrastructure as well as
9. Operation Phakisa aimed growing the ocean economy and other sectors.

It is gratifying to note that the second most important point is the revitalization of agriculture and agro-processing in South Africa possibly in conjunction with the fifty/fifty policy framework, which proposes relative rights for people who live and work on farms. Fifty farming enterprises will be identified as a pilot project.
Agriculture can be a catalyst for growth and food security. Early plans with the private sector are to develop an Agricultural Policy Action Plan which will bring one million hectares of under-utilised land into full production over the next three years. An initial funding of R2 billion has been made available for the Agri-Park initiative involving the establishment of agri-parks and clusters in each of the 27 poorest district municipalities. This potentially can be a game changer in creating sustainable economic growth and jobs.

It is time that that a professional body such as ABSIP could assist is in providing a platform whereby all experienced and qualified professionals can volunteer to serve on audit and risk committees of municipalities to help making sure that municipalities deliver on time, first time and every time – effective and efficient services to its residents. ABSIP calls on all other professional bodies of accountants, actuaries, engineers etc. to also rally their members in assisting municipalities.
ABSIP calls on all its members and the people of South Africa in contributing to an environment whereby South Africa sustainably can grow its economy and create jobs reduce poverty and unemployment.

Asief Mohamed is a member of ABSIP and the Chief Investment Officer of Aeon Investment Management based in Cape Town



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