It would be disheartening of south Africans to forget the good things the country has achieved under Zuma to focus only on his bad deeds, says Edna Molewa, chairperson of the government’s international co-operation, trade and security cluster and the Minister of Environmental Affairs.
The minister, who aired her opinion in a post on IOL, said any South African with an accurate understanding of the progress the country has made under President Jacob Zuma’s leadership ought to appreciate that fact with confidence, that the country is still on the right track.
She also wrote that despite all the political power being played out in the public in recent years, a South Africans with an accurate understanding of all that is going on in the country must be able to judge Zuma based on performance versus perception.
It’s regrettable how truth has become the first casualty as some seek to relegate the past eight years of the Zuma administration to the rubbish bin of history. Political side shows, however, won’t detract from the achievements of his two terms in the Presidency, wrote Edna Molewa.
- Provision of policy and legislative certainty and clarity around economic developments,
- Rolling out massive infrastructure,
- Creating jobs,
- Supporting small businesses
- Transforming the economy to make it more inclusive
We should judge him on performance versus perception, she said, adding that Zuma assumed office at the time countries of the world tilt towards recession, unlike his predecessors who governed when the world and the country were experiencing an economic boom.
Explaining in her terms how Zuma was able to bring change to the country, Minister Edna Molewa traced the story back to the June 3, 2009, Sona meeting where she recalled Zuma picked up a nation drowning in economic crisis following the Great depression experienced all around the world, to where it is today.
She said earlier before Zuma’s assumption into office, World bank noted in 2008 report, that the crisis also triggered countries real economy amid declining house prices and vehicle sales, slowed manufacturing production, a shrinking mining sector and increased retrenchments.
Added to the economic downturn is the increased cases of HIV/Aids, unemployment, inequality, poverty, and crime. Despite all these, Zuma assumed office and worked hard to ensure he kept to his words in 2009 SONA where he pledged to advance sound fiscal positions, which went a long way towards cushioning South Africa from the shocks of the global economic downturn.
“The president announced 10 priorities his administration would focus on as outlined in the 2009-2014 Medium Term Strategic Framework – all the while taking into account the constraints posed by the economic crisis.
“Attached to each commitment were detailed project plans with targets and critical milestones. One of his first actions as president was to establish a Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation.
“Through this ministry, strategic planning has been streamlined and the government’s Plan of Action is measured through outputs, strategic activities, and metrics, and implemented through service delivery agreements…
“If we are to use the president’s pledges made during the 2009 Sona as a yardstick, the facts speak for themselves.” wrote Edna.
Building new infrastructure and upgrading old ones
Today, South Africa is one of the top 10 investment destinations for renewable energy thanks to the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme, introduced by Zuma’s administration, Edna Molewa wrote, adding that building new infrastructure and upgrading existing ones has been a focus of Zuma’s administration.
Earlier this year, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan announced that the government would spend R50 billion to fund economic infrastructure requirements. This massive infrastructure spend hasn’t just supported our integration into the economies of the continent but has also created jobs and strengthened the delivery of basic services to our people, the minister said.
“When Zuma assumed office in 2009, 82.7% of households were electrified. In 2013 this figure stood at 85.4%. Ninety percent of households are connected to piped water and 78% have access to adequate sanitation – up from 72.4%.
‘Significant strides have been made in broadening access to education during his two terms. The number of people with no formal education or low levels of education has decreased and stands at 16.2%. Grade R enrolments doubled between 2003 and 2011 and the national matric pass rate stood at 78.2% by 2013 – and is steadily improving.” she added.
Education and Job Creation
In terms of educational improvement and improved job opportunities, MinisterEdna Molewa said Zuma has kept to his promise of improving access to higher education for children from poor families through the provision of Financial Aid Scheme of R2.4 billion in funding, excluding the additional funding by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Unemployment, according to Minister Edna, has been reduced to the barest minimum through Zuma’s Expanded Public Works Programme which since 2014 has created more than 2 million work opportunities. It has also led to an increased Life expectancy from 56.8 years in 2009 to 59.6 last year.
“This can be attributed to this government’s interventions to combat TB and HIV/Aids. In addition, South Africa’s antiretroviral program is cited for international best practice by the UN Aids Programme,” she said.
Meanwhile, the minister noted that the Zuma-led government is in the process of rolling out of the National Health Insurance scheme and the first post-apartheid health sciences university, Sefako Makgatho. This would help in the training of health professionals so they could meet the health needs of the South African population.
Zuma’s administration presides over the rollout of one of the largest social security nets in the world. In 2009, more than 13 million people received social grants. Today that figure stands at more than 17 million men, women and children, wrote Edna Molewa.
“Contrary to the narrative being driven by certain sectors of society around the perceived failures of the Zuma administration, having achieved all the above despite prevailing economic conditions is no small feat.
“When arguing the merits or otherwise of this administration, we should be armed with the facts and not be distracted by those with self-serving political agendas.” the minister concluded saying.