Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2005-04-25 Reporter: Sapa Reporter:

DA Slams New Role for Zuma











The Democratic Alliance said on Sunday it was "extraordinary" that Deputy President Jacob Zuma had been given new responsibility, as watchdog over the "second economy", before judgment in the Shaik trial had been delivered.

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that President Thabo Mbeki had tasked Zuma with overseeing government programmes to grow the second economy and integrate the poor into the economic mainstream.

He had assigned the role to Zuma last year, but the decision had taken time to implement.

Chief government strategist Joel Netshitenzhe's policy co-ordination and advisory services unit was preparing its first report for Zuma and expected to present it in about two weeks, the newspaper said.

However Democratic Alliance finance spokesman Ian Davidson told Sapa he was surprised that the president had "almost cocked a snook" at the fact that judgment was still to be delivered in the trial of Durban businessman Schabir Shaik, who the prosecution claims had a corrupt relationship with Zuma.

Zuma has not been charged, but a conviction in the case, now drawing to a close, will severely dent his image.

Davidson said it was important that attention was paid to the second economy.

"One needs a champion. But the fact that he [Zuma] has been given this role is extraordinary. It just shows an arrogance, a disrespect for a process that is going on that can fundamentally change the status of this person.

"One would think out of respect they would hold off till judgment has been delivered."

Zuma, former economic affairs MEC in KwaZulu-Natal, is currently also a member of the African National Congress's national executive, leader of government business in the National Assembly, peace negotiator in the Great Lakes region and head of both the government's Moral Regeneration Movement and the SA National Aids Council.

Zuma's responsibilities in the "second economy" portfolio would be to oversee skills development, basic training under the expanded public works programme, financial services for the poor, and access to information about economic opportunities and community development.

The government uses the term "second economy" to include the country's rural and urban poor, informal traders, and micro entrepreneurs, whose participation in mainstream economic activities is either minimal or peripheral.

It also embraces, in this definition, a large number of uneducated young people unable to find employment, and employees who have been made redundant.

In February this year Mbeki told Parliament that success in the growth of the economy should be measured not merely in terms of the returns that accrued to investors or job opportunities for those with skills.

"Rather, it should also manifest in the extent to which the marginalised in the wilderness of the second economy are included and are at least afforded sustainable livelihoods," he said.

With acknowledgements to Sapa.