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Zuma to Deliver State of the Nation Address

South African President, Jacob Zuma is expected to make his first state of the nation address to parliament in Cape Town Wednesday. Some South Africans anticipate that President Zuma will come up with plans to alleviate the economic hardships facing them as he promised during last April's election.

Recent figures suggest that South Africa's economy is in recession, due to effects of the global economic meltdown.

Political reporter Tshepo Ikaneng is set to cover Mr.Zuma's maiden presidential speech to parliament for the South Africa Broadcasting Cooperation. He told VOA that the ordinary South African wants to hear about job creation.

"I think many people are waiting with anticipation because of the fact that this is coming on the heels of the election that was held in South Africa," Ikaneng said.

He said there are indications that South African citizens repose confidence in their newly elected leader.

"I think many people are hopeful despite the fact that we have this global recession which has affected South Africa negatively," he said.

Ikaneng said some people want to hear the new administration's plans to address the recent spike in lost jobs.

"Many people want to hear what the government is going to be saying about creating jobs. We know that we have had a lot of job shedding in South Africa itself and many people are unemployed," Ikaneng said.

Ikaneng said others are interested in hearing how the president acknowledges that the economy is in recession.

"Many people who voted Zuma to power are from a rural background. This is where the hardships are unemployment … and many people don't understand what the recession is," Ikaneng said.

He acknowledged that among those who might not comprehend what a recession is all about, there are a significant number of the president's supporters.

"Global recession is understood by the elite, is understood by the educated populace of South Africa, which forms part of a very small percentage of the general public," he admitted.

Rather than facing up to the news about hard times, Ikaneng observed that President Zuma's supporters are still brimming with confidence in his ability to deliver.

"They are seeing hope in Zuma because they are saying, we voted for this man because... during the election, he said he is going to improve our situation. So it is going to be a difficult task for Zuma to actually explain to the lay man on the ground, what I am going to be doing for him," Ikaneng said.

He said job creation would be a difficult undertaking for the new president despite high expectations from his supporters.

"Really, people don't care much about the recession. What they care most is to see them getting more jobs, getting more employment. And that is not going to be possible in the next two years," he said.

Taking note of Mr. Zuma's intense partisanship, Ikaneng said presidential critics who say the ruling party is failing to address the challenges facing common people can expect that the president will tackle them head on.