South African Students Congress

SASCO Statement on the 2013 State of the Nation Address

15 February 2013

SASCO welcomes the presentation of the State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma. Below are our views on this very backbone of government program of action for this financial year.

Education

We are saddened by lack of mention of any program to roll-out free education; especially for the poor as per ANC conference resolution. Whilst we are happy that the building of the actual infrastructure of the two universities in both Mpumalanga and Northern will finally start in September, we wish to warn that this must not affect the target to have the universities opening gates for admission by the beginning of 2014 as earlier articulated by the Minister of Higher Education. We also expected the President to announce the commencement of work on the social infrastructure roll out to build student residences in our institutions of higher education and training, as mentioned in last year’s SONA.

We are encouraged by the attempts to place FET graduates on in-service training and wish to state our concerns that nothing is being mentioned about students from Universities of Technology who are also faced with the same challenges of failing to get work placement. More also still need to be done in this regard. We are saddened that graduate unemployment has not been given priority despite the state having visible incapacity, that can be augmented by the use of the very graduates as well as increasing their very own capacity.

We welcome the building of 98 schools to replace mud schools with a focus on the Eastern Cape. We encourage government to accelerate the infrastructure roll out in our schools. We applaud the President for not giving into liberal pressure to deprive teachers of their constitutional right to strike. We agree that an attitudinal change in our society on the importance of education is needed. We call upon the teachers, learners, parents, government, business and communities to make greater efforts to improve the education system.

On the economy and Job creation

We welcome the infrastructure roll-out plan and wish to express our disappointment with the lack of any plan (at least as per SONA) about the super-exploitation of our working class population by labour brokers. We are also saddened by the fact that the infrastructure development has largely been used as a medium to enhance the old fashioned export dependent economy.

We are also disappointed by the lack of plans to develop social ownership in the economy as well as no plan to ensure that finance capital does not constrain the movement of monetary resources through-out the country, thus leaving the very rural economies that are to be developed further to smaller market. We however welcome the commitment to state intervention in the economy and wish that it is in the interest of the poorest of the poor. We are particularly pleased by the announcement that the willing-buyer-willing seller principle will be ditched as the land redistribution mechanism.

We are disappointed at the abandoning of nationalization and the silence on the role of the State Owned Mining Company.

We welcome the abandoning of the Youth Wage Subsidy and the endorsement of the NEDLAC process of a Youth Employment Accord which involves all stakeholders. We are however unsure of the mention of incentives and warn that this should not be used as a back door tactic to introduce a Youth Wage Subsidy.

On gender equality, health and social development

We welcome the finalisation of the legislation to ensure 50/50 gender representation in decision making structures. This is a sign of commitment towards building a non-sexist society. We always join government in condemning gender based violence and pledge to make our own contribution towards this initiative.

We join the country in celebrating the increase in life expectancy from 56 years in 2009 to 60 in 2011. This is an important indicator of progress in our health system. We are encouraged by the ground breaking research on HIV/AIDs and TB in our country as indicated in the SONA. We welcome the introduction of national health insurance fund. We are optimistic about the progress in the roll out of pilots for NHI, particularly the focus on villages and townships where our people struggle to access health services.

Corruption

We welcome the strong statements and commitments government is making in combating crime, particularly corruption in the public sector. We believe it is important for the state to not only communicate this message but be seen actively uprooting corrupt elements from its ranks. Public perception about government corruption will only change through visible action and not lip service. We call for a radical clean-up of all corrupt elements in the state.

We have always made the point about the high level of private sector corruption, aimed at exploiting the working class of South Africa. We call for much more harsher action to be taken against price fixing and overpricing by business, we believe this is a crime against the working class and poor.

International Relations

We welcome the commitment of our government in the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and the harsh condemnation of the Apartheid Israeli state. We also welcome pronouncements made on the question of Western Sahara and Cuba; however we are disheartened by the lack of mention of the Swazi Tinkundla Regime. We welcome the role South Africa is playing on the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative; we believe this will lead to greater regional integration and intra-African trade which will lead to the development of our continent.

Contact
Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, 071 875 2224
Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, 079 199 3421