Zuma faces flood of urgent requests

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma might find it impossible to live up to everyone's expectations when he makes his first State of the Nation address in Parliament this morning.

Most political parties, trade unions and lobby groups have asked Zuma to promise everything from social grants for the unemployed, to "export processing zones" - factory areas far off the beaten track, where labour laws are normally waived and investors given tax breaks and financial incentives to set up shop.

But Congress of the People head of communications Phillip Dexter said Cope was not expecting much.

"Cope doesn't expect any real response to the recession or the crisis in the health sector," Dexter said. "The ANC manifesto promises are empty - they promised jobs but workers are still being retrenched and the health sector is falling apart without government taking steps to solve the problem." .

The Black Sash, a human rights group, said Zuma must "tell us how he is going to help the millions of unemployed and working poor in our country who are facing a desperate daily struggle to survive the current recession".

Black Sash spokesperson Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said Zuma should also announce social grants for the unemployed and special attention for the 2,7million unemployed young people.

Nyembezi said Zuma should also send out a loud and clear message that he will prevent any further xenophobic attacks in the country.

PAC MP Letlapa Mphahlele said Zuma must focus on rural development and "make a clear pronouncement about how to get education back on track".

The DA called on Zuma to make a public commitment that he will not tolerate politicians who try to influence judges' decisions.

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said Zuma should also make a clear break from former president Thabo Mbeki's "corporate culture", which had led to "inefficiency, poor customer service, a lack of accountability and hostility towards transparency and openness".

ID leader Patricia de Lille said Zuma should extend the school feeding scheme to high schools and child support grants to children up to 18 years old.