Motlanthe's address "an election speech" – Helen Zille

Statement by the Democratic Alliance leader, February 6 2009

I am disappointed that President Kgalema Motlanthe used his State of the Nation Address today to deliver an ANC election speech.

A State of the Nation Address should look forward to the future. It should reassure the nation that the government has a comprehensive and carefully-considered programme of action to meet the challenges which face us. President Motlanthe's State of the Nation Address, by contrast, spent too much time looking back to the past. The President delivered a selective and partisan history lesson when, instead, he should have focused more on how his government plans to grow the economy, crack down on crime and corruption, and address the crises in public education and healthcare.

President Motlanthe deserves credit for acknowledging that the global economic meltdown poses serious dangers for our economy. This is the first time that he has pronounced on the matter. However, rather than praising his government for extending the social wage - even though the Democratic Alliance supports poverty alleviation through an appropriate social safety net of state grants - he should have explained how his administration plans to grow the economy by expanding opportunity. Because it is only by creating and extending opportunity that we will weather the storm of the global economic crisis and reduce poverty.

Although the President made passing reference to combating corruption in his address, his failure to announce the appointment of a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal was disappointing. So was his failure to update the nation on the government's plans to overhaul the criminal justice system. Criminals are still getting away with crime because our criminal justice system is dysfunctional at every level. It cannot prevent crime, catch criminals, gather evidence, prosecute and convict them successfully, secure them in prisons or rehabilitate them there. President Motlanthe should have acknowledged that and provided appropriate solutions.

Although the President's State of the Nation Address may have met the requirements of Luthuli House as an electioneering gambit, it has failed to meet the needs of ordinary South Africans desperate for firm leadership and clear solutions to our country's problems.

Statement issued by Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, February 6 2009