President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma will be the focus of political attention this week when he delivers his annual assessment of the country’s health in the state of the nation address to a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Zuma on Friday confounded expectations that he would use the occasion to announce the election date. He made the announcement in an attempt to improve public responses to the last voter registration weekend that was held on Saturday and Sunday by the Independent Electoral Commission.

Mr Zuma will make his sixth state of the nation speech under more pressure than ever before with widespread violent protests engulfing large areas of South Africa. His African National Congress is accused of failing to provide basic services.

He will also be expected to address the continuing strikes in the mining sector, which have potential to further harpoon the government’s plans to create jobs.

Mr Zuma will undoubtedly concentrate on the successes of the government, especially in areas where infrastructure projects have created jobs and delivered services. He will brief a New Age breakfast meeting on the speech on Friday morning.

As has become the custom in recent years that the state of the nation address takes place in the evening, causing chaos in Cape Town’s traffic with substantial road closures across the city for protracted periods of time.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a full parliamentary programme of committee meetings.

On Tuesday morning the standing committee on appropriations will be briefed by the Department of Water Affairs and the Treasury on problems experienced in the delivery of water. This has particular relevance as some violent protests, which have seen people dying, are related to lack of access to clean water.

The correctional services committee will on Tuesday get a briefing on progress made in the review of the criminal justice system with particular reference to aspects affecting the Department of Correctional Services.

The politics of sport will come in focus with the South African Football Association and Cricket South Africa reporting on their development programmes. This comes after the national football side Bafana Bafana was criticised as a bunch of losers by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula after they were recently bundled out of the African Nations Championship.

The communications committee will also be of interest when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and Department of Communications bring MPs up to speed on the costs of communication.

There are certain to be probing questions at the co-operative governance and traditional affairs committee where a progress report on the implementation of the local government turnaround strategy will be delivered.

This would include the audit outcomes for all municipalities from 2009-10 to 2012-13 and the usage of consultants by municipalities.

The standing committee on appropriations will meet for the second time in as many days on Wednesday when it will receive a briefing by the Department of Cooperative Governance as well as the Treasury on the funding model for the state’s Community Works Programme.