February 12 2015 at 10:38am
By Marianne Merten
Little but a “state of nonsense” was expected when President Jacob Zuma later on Thursday delivers his State of the Nation Address in Parliament, the United Front (UF) said on Wednesday.
“The official SONA (State of the Nation Address) and the opening of Parliament have become a naked display of power and unashamed greed of the elite.
“Sadly, far from being humble servants of the people, all our politicians have become the new self-serving Wabenzi,” said front national secretary Mazibuko Jara, delivering an alternative state of the nation.
The UF was scathing about the lack of progress made and cautioned about a good story being told through “misdiagnosis and tokenistic solutions”.
Jara said while there were many progressive laws and policies, these had not reduced South Africa’s levels of inequality.
And frequently, the government failed to adhere to legal stipulations: the alternative mining indaba in Cape Town has heard from communities near mining activity who were not consulted, as required, before licences were awarded.
In agriculture, 80 percent of food in South Africa was produced by just 20 percent of the current 35 000 commercial farmers, and while the country was a food net exporter in most years, half of South Africa’s population did not have consistent access to nutritious food, according a recent Oxfam report on inequality.
Meanwhile, the Global Financial Integrity report showed R300 billion in profits left South Africa in illicit capital transfers as particularly mining companies appeared not to declare profits for tax reasons, Jara added.
The alternative State of the Nation was styled as a call of action – and on Budget day in two weeks’ time, the UF wants a demonstration outside Parliament to demand the proper financing of Eskom to end load shedding, a socially owned renewable energy sector to give communities a say, and the end to night soil buckets by December.
Karl Cloete, metalworkers’ union Numsa’s deputy general secretary, who spoke in support of the UF, said the union was intrigued that 2015 had been declared by the ANC, and the government, as the year to reclaim the Freedom Charter.
“If you need to reclaim something, you must have lost it somewhere.”