STATE OF THE NATION: A week of news and views
The online social network Twitter has been a focal point for many South Africans expressing their views ahead of President Jacob Zuma's yearly state of the nation address on Thursday evening, said Media Tenor South Africa on Wednesday.
"Twitter completely dominated as the platform for commenting on the state of the nation address," the research company said in its analysis of media coverage between February 2 and 8 of the event, which forms part of the opening of Parliament.
Looking at traditional media, it said that besides the expected criticism from opposition parties, political analysts had also particularly critical of the government in the past week. "Media on the day before the address (Wednesday) also carried more opinionated coverage from external commentators."
In both traditional and social media, the government was most often criticised on job creation, the economy, service delivery and education.
According to the analysis, job creation was by far the most visible policy issue discussed in both traditional and social media. The latter put noticeably less focus on the economy - which received only slightly less attention in the traditional media - and instead placed more emphasis on crime, safety and security.
"The topic of education was the most negatively slanted of these. Mining was also very visible, but it was lacking the usual criticism as the issue of nationalisation have been largely deflated by discussion around the findings of the 'leaked' African National Congress research report," it said.
An ANC-commissioned report on reforming the country's mining industry is expected to be published on Friday, although Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu already told the Mining Indada in Cape Town earlier this week that it reinforced the ruling party's earlier decision that nationalisation was not a viable policy for South Africa.
Of the 10 newspapers included in the analysis, Media Tenor listed Business Day as having the "most consistent" reporting - in terms of the number of references to the state of the nation address - in the past week, while the Sunday Independent offered the most in-depth analysis in a single newspaper so far.
The research provider said South African media had been evenhanded in their sources.
"So far, media allowed for almost equal amount of space for both Presidency sources and external analyst sources to comment on the address. Financial media provided a space for industry experts from consulting companies to comment, particularly on the issues of job creation and economy," it said.
In the run-up to Thursday's address, various non-governmental groups have also aired their expectations.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) said earlier this week it hoped Mr Zuma would use the opportunity to provide clear direction on the way forward for the country.
"SACCI expects enterprise support, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and support for the business environment to be a key theme of the address," it said in a statement.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said it expected the president to give a firm sense that 2012 would be the year of accelerated implementation of policies and programmes that have been agreed and funded.
"In President Zuma's third year in office, 2012 must be a year of 'game change' for implementation," Busa said. "Business expects the address to give a comprehensive platform on which business, government, labour and community can continue to position South Africa on a higher, more inclusive and job-rich growth path - and expediting what has been agreed in programmes such as the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan."
On a lighter note, Media Tenor reported that social media activity picked up when 5fm radio DJ Gareth Cliff announced the tongue-in-cheek state of the nation "undress" game on Twitter. Participants will have to remove an item of clothing every time the president laughs, says "absolutely" or "poverty" or touches his glasses with his middle finger, for example.
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