By Minister Faith Muthambi
When President Jacob Zuma takes to the podium tomorrow to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address, the nation will be waiting in anticipation. The President will exercise his Constitutional powers to call for a joint sitting of Parliament, namely the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
It is also an opportunity for the President to speak to ordinary citizens and inform them how our country is faring. He is expected to reflect on the achievements of his administration from the previous year and communicate government’s programme of action for the forthcoming year. Normally the address also focuses on challenges and what needs to be done to move our country forward.
The address also marks the opening of the parliamentary year and is a rare occasion where the three branches of government - Cabinet, Legislature and Judiciary – meet.
The overall picture that the President paints in his address will a few days later be cross-examined by Members of Parliament in the debate on the State of the Nation Address. This is one of the hallmarks of our open and democratic government and forms part of constant oversight of government's actions.
The one thing however all political parties represented in Parliament agree on is our 2030 vision as captured in the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP received strong endorsement from the broader society and it is being vigorously implemented.
All government policies and long-terms plans of departments have also been aligned to the NDP to ensure consistency and coherence.
As is the tradition, the State of the Nation Address will be followed by government cluster briefings to unpack in detail programmes of action for the year ahead as highlighted by the President. The briefings are key to ensure that South Africans are well informed and updated about tangible programmes that the government undertake to improve their lives.
This year’s address coincides with the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Oliver Reginald Tambo. OR Tambo is the late former President of the African National Congress and one of the key founding fathers of South Africa’s liberation and constitutional democracy. He is the hero of our liberation struggle who shaped the country’s vision, mission and value system.
It is almost twenty four years since Tambo’s death and President Jacob Zuma’s administration is still committed to live up to the vision that Tambo espoused. This leadership has kept his legacy alive; our constitution is intact, we continue to hold elections every five years and to improve the living conditions of our people.
It is now up to the citizens of our country to ensure his legacy lives on. All of us should use the year-long celebrations to draw lessons from his life and understand the qualities which made him an exceptional leader. We should emulate his style of leadership of moving “forward on the basis of building consensus” and we owe it to him to build a united nation as he intended.
One way to do this is to familiarise ourselves with the content of President Zuma’s address so we can all play an active part in building the country Tambo would be proud of. Let us take part in the debate and join government by generating new ideas to solve the challenges we face in our communities and the country.
Faith Muthambi is the Minister of Communications.