We are a nation at work: Zuma - CNBC Africa

We are a nation at work: Zuma

Southern Africa

by Trust Matsilele 0

Energy and unemployment were a key focus at President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address PHOTO: GCIS

Zuma explained that the lives of ordinary citizens had improved over the last two decades, but that more needed be done.

“The triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality continue to trouble many of our people. As we enter the second 20 years of our democracy, we need to work toward eradicating the triple challenges,” said Zuma, and warned that the much required change would not take place without far reaching actions.

(READ MORE: Employment & labour force still at the core of S.Africa's fabric)

Zuma added that the economy nevertheless takes centre stage in the programme of addressing the triple challenges, noting that the most effective weapon against poverty was creating decent jobs. 

Zuma also expressed concern in the platinum strikes, which have since crippled the economy's key production sectors.

“The economy has grown below its potential over the last three years and many households are going through difficulties,” said Zuma.

“Domestic conditions such as prolonged violent strikes and shortages in the energy have contributed to slowing growth."

(READ MORE: Platinum strikes could drive S.Africa into a recession)

The current administration is now expected to explore the possibilities of the national minimal wage to reduce the issue of inequality.

Zuma urged mining firms to relook at improving living conditions for mine workers, adding that government would monitor the living conditions to ensure compliance by the companies.

Concerns over energy challenges in the country were also a focus point, as the ongoing struggle of poor electricity capacity could bring back nationwide blackouts in an effort to ease pressure on South Africa's electricity grid.

Zuma added that power utility, Eskom would get the support it requires so as to meet its targets.

“We will work toward radical transformation of the energy sector coal, gas sectors, wind and nuclear energy. The transformation will require structural changes including the injection of capital and human resources in the energy sector,” Zuma said.

(READ MORE: DBSA keen on ensuring energy sufficiency in S.Africa)

Zuma noted that the country was also part of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Inga Dam project, which currently has the potential to generate 40,000 megawatts.

“State owned enterprises such as Eskom, [and] South African nuclear energy should adapt to the redefined roles to achieve these goals,” he added.