The world pays tribute to Mandela (slideshow)
As South Africans come to terms with the loss of former president Nelson Mandela, the rest of the world bids farewell to Madiba.
Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
Gwede, Mac and Blade try their best to stop the rabbit from whispering in Mandela's ear. But the elusive animal has some tricks up its sleeve.
Zapiro's best Madiba cartoons (slideshow)
From his toughest moments to his most triumphant, Madiba has been an inspiration. Here are some of our favourite Zapiro cartoons about him from 1994 to 2013.
Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
Battered by scandal and facing an angry, divided ANC President Jacob Zuma sought on Thursday night to dress his presidency in robes borrowed from his most illustrious predecessor, Nelson Mandela.
The elaborately staged State of the Nation address, held in the evening for the first time to catch prime-time television audiences, was scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release and kicked off with a documentary film about the former president playing on large screens in the National Assembly.
In a gesture borrowed from Mandela, Zuma made a specific effort to rekindle the ethos of racial reconciliation, recognising for their role in ending apartheid figures like FW de Klerk, PW Botha and former justice minister Kobie Coetsee, as well as liberal icon Helen Suzman and Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
However, in the plans and promises that Zuma outlined for his next four years in government, it was clear that despite the slight recovery in the economy, he has little to give -- at least in the short term.
Zuma promised South Africans better education, roads and healthcare, less crime and more jobs, but warned the these pledges will be fulfilled only in a few years.
He did not reflect much on the achievement of his government so far, except to set the record straight on his past undertakings on job creation. These have been roundly criticised in the teeth of the almost a million job losses due to the recession.
'During the 2009 State of the Nation address, I announced that the expanded public works programme would create 500 000 work opportunities by December 2009,” Zuma told Parliament.
Turning the corner?
'Let me reiterate that these are not jobs in the mainstream economy. These are job opportunities created to provide unemployed people with an income, work experience, and training opportunities. We are pleased to announce that by the end of December we had created more than 480 000 public works job opportunities, which is 97% of the target we had set.”
But Zuma has learned his lesson about setting targets and the few that he did announce in his address set 2014 as the delivery date.
'Economic indicators suggest we are now turning the corner. It is too soon, though, to be certain of the pace of recovery. Government will therefore not withdraw its support measures,” he said.
He made promising remarks about government plans to deal with job losses, but gave no details, saying: 'Our industrial policy action plan and our new focus on green jobs will build stronger and more labour-absorbing industries.”
The pressing issue of job creation was dealt with by referring to current government interventions, including the training layoff scheme, and promising more labour-intensive projects.
This means that government still sees the expanded public works programme as its main answer to mitigating the economic recession and its accompanying job losses.
The only decisive intervention on the job creation front is a two-tier labour system where government will use subsidies to encourage companies to hire young, inexperienced workers.
'Proposals will be tabled to subsidise the cost of hiring younger workers, to encourage firms to take on inexperienced staff,” Zuma said.
The Mail & Guardian understands that treasury will soon elaborate on this strategy, which will target specific economic sectors and provide employment for youth. A pilot project has been launched and is due to be expanded.
Zuma also promised cheaper telephone calls, saying the public 'can look forward to an even further reduction of broadband, cellphone, landline and public phone rates. We will work to increase broadband speed and ensure a high standard of internet service, in line with international norms.”
With former president Nelson Mandela in attendance, Zuma drew heavily on the fact that his second State of the Nation address coincides with the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release from prison.
His cashing in on the powerful public emotions around Mandela made for an address that was strong on sentiment but weak on substance.
Zuma again committed to ensuring performance of government officials and ministers, who now will have to sign delivery agreements with Zuma.
'This year, 2010, shall be a year of action. The defining feature of this administration will be that it knows where people live, understands their needs and responds faster.”
His business-like approach to government is echoed in the promise that 'government must work faster, harder and smarter” reminiscent of a corporate slogan.
Governnment plans to ensure that 175 000 matric students will have university exemption by 2014, but Zuma steered clear of setting a target for the matric pass rate.
School learners in grades three, six and nine will write literacy and numeracy tests and the pass rate is aimed at 60% by 2014.
Zuma acknowledged the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit in December but vowed that South Africa will work with international counterparts towards a legally binding strategy.
National health insurance
For the first time Zuma announced a national health insurance (NHI) system but declined to answer the pressing question of how it will work.
'We will also continue preparations for the establishment of a national health insurance system,” was all he would divulge.
Government previously promised the eradication of informal settlements by 2014, but now Zuma promised to, by 2014, ensure that 500 000 households in informal settlements have proper services and lend tenure. R1-billion will be used to ensure that those who are not poor enough for government subsidies but not rich enough to qualify for bank mortages, will be helped.
Zuma also promised more bobbies on the beat by increasing police numbers by 10%.
The success of land reform and agricultural programmes 'will show in the increase in the number of small scale farmers that become economically viable”, but again he refrained from setting a target or a timeline.
Zuma's aim to have the same reconcilitary approach as Mandela also shone through.
'Allow me to mention the role played by former president PW Botha. It was he who initiated the discussion about the possible release of political prisoners. President Botha worked with the former minister of justice, Kobie Coetzee [sic], who was in turn assisted by Dr Neil Barnard and Mr Mike Louw. They played a significant role in the process of leading the release of Madiba.”
Zuma even pledged to help revitalise the New Partnership for Africa's Development.