Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jacob Zuma makes pledges to lower poverty in State of the nation speech

The newly elected President of South Africa recently made his first State of the Nation speech. In the speech, Jacob Zuma made poverty reduction his biggest concern.

From the Voice of America, writer Scott Bobb gives us the details of the speech.

South African President Jacob Zuma says poverty reduction will be the cornerstone of his government's policy and immediate action is needed to reduce the impact of the global economic downturn on the most vulnerable. He made the remarks during his first state-of-the-nation speech since taking office last month.

In his first major speech as South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma showed he had heard the voters who overwhelmingly elected him six weeks ago. He said the plight of the 40 percent of South Africans living in poverty would be his top priority.

"We shall not rest and we dare not falter, in our drive to eradicate poverty," said Mr. Zuma.

Mr. Zuma pledged to create 500,000 jobs by the end of this year and four million jobs in the next five years.

He pledged to fast-track a public-works program to build schools, health centers, roads and information networks. And he said initiatives would be strengthened to increase skill levels of unemployed and under-employed workers.

In a country with one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, Mr. Zuma pledged to reduce the rate of HIV infection by 50 percent in three years and extend anti-retroviral treatment to 80 percent of those suffering from AIDS.

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