The devil is in the detail

President Jacob Zuma's maiden state of the nation address has been vintage Msholozi.

President Jacob Zuma's maiden state of the nation address has been vintage Msholozi.

Never one to get bogged down in detail but rather tending to create space where all constituencies feel included, the president's speech will leave many South Africans scratching their heads as to what it really meant.

Whereas in the past nine years the real meaning of the most important political speech of the year was clouded by references to the high arts, this time the president's lack of specifics has left us speculating.

Zuma's comrades and foes alike agree that he touched on every issue that is important to South Africans and expanded on promises made by Polokwane and in the ANC election manifesto.

There were all the right-sounding phrases. Crime will be fought; children will be educated and jobs will be created. Money will be allocated for all these noble goals.

It is left to the rest of us to decide whether we find the speech exciting or dull.

The devil is in the detail.

This means that Zuma has thrown the ball into his ministers' court. As they meet over the next few days they will have to answer the one question Zuma's speech did not deal with: how are all these noble goals going to be achieved, especially in a gloomy global economic environment and a recession at home?

Political forecasting, like economic future-gazing, is a dismal science. We could choose to despair but we opt to keep the faith that more rather than less will come out of yesterday.

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