Zuma to step up affirmative action

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday promised a period of “socio-economic transformation” after the May 7 elections.

Zuma told MPs government would launch a drive to tackle poverty and inequality and ensure that affirmative action was stepped up.

Responding in the National Assembly to debate on his state-of-the-nation address, Zuma said opposition parties who decried affirmative action were ignoring the damage apartheid had caused.

“It provokes a debate we don’t want to enter into. I think it is a wrong cry.”

He said whites still controlled senior management positions in business and this had to change to make economic freedom a reality for the majority of South Africans.

Zuma also responded to criticism that he had allowed government debt to soar to unacceptable levels.

He conceded it was at its lowest in 2008 – the year before he came to power – at 27 percent of GDP – but said, though it was forecast to reach 45% in 2015, that was “still relatively low”.

Opposition parties have been scathing in their criticism of Zuma’s last state-of-the-nation address before the country goes to the polls, and ridiculed his statement that the ruling party would only unveil its future policies after the vote.

A survey conducted in October, by Futurefact found that both black and white middle-class South African’s believe that that the best person should be given the job regardless of race or gender.

Futurefact, a body of independent researchers, said it explored the similarities and differences between black and white South Africans who self-classify themselves as middle-class or upper-middle class.

It found that 85% of black respondents were against affirmative action, while 91% of white respondents were against the policy.

More than three-quarters of all respondents, however, feel that “only a few people have really benefited from black economic empowerment”.

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Zuma to step up affirmative action