Jacob Zuma said fighting poverty was his priority
New South African President Jacob Zuma has promised to create half a million jobs this year in his first state of the nation address.
He said fighting poverty was his priority, a week after South Africa officially announced it was facing its worst recession in 17 years.
Mr Zuma, whose African National Congress Party (ANC) swept into power in April elections on the back of strong support from unions and the poor, cautioned against expectations of a quick fix to the financial slump.
BBC News website readers in South Africa have been sending their reaction to the speech.
More of the usual promises, inequality has grown in South Africa since the ANC has been in power. The poor and disadvantaged live at a level of general desperation. Violent crime is at horrific levels, widespread corruption in public life, skilled people continue to emigrate. Life is dirt cheap - welcome to Africa.
Stevie Wonder, Cape Town
This was great, especially the promise of creating many jobs since it is very painful to see the youth doing nothing at homes, which also leads to crime. He is coming alright and I feel that he is going to the greatest president that our country has ever had.
Mxolisi Ncane, Port Shepstone
Most South Africans I know have adopted a wait and see attitude, they believe that things will stay on a fairly even until after 2010, once the world stops looking at us they feel changes will be made. We are currently building stadiums, upgrading roads and infrastructure for the World Cup, this has created jobs, what happens to these jobs once it is over? Like all governments all over the world there are lots of promises, so we shall just wait and see if delivery happens, I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Sue Baguley, Cape Town
I think our President Jacob Zuma's speech gives us hope that something is about to be done in our country. Jobs creation is one of the vital things that most of South Africans are expecting of the new government. I hope what he promises will indeed happen.
Simon Maluleke, Elim, South Africa
State of the nation addresses are usually filled with pomp, ceremony and promise. This is exactly what Zuma is about at the moment. Zuma's government could become more like other African governments in their insecurity towards criticisms in the media and by the opposition. But for now they are full of promise!
Paul Robinson, Cape Town
Jacob Zuma has, so far, said all the right things. But delivery on promises has been the biggest problem in the last 14 years. He must now eradicate the endemic corruption amongst people not qualified for the positions they hold. Put the right people in the right jobs based upon ability not tokenism and make our taxes work.
John Bexley, Johannesburg
Reality is the key word. In the current economic situation it would be difficult if not impossible to meet all what the president has promised. Also importantly, the issue of crime must be attended to as a matter of urgency.
I cannot believe that yet another public holiday has been announced, slowing down the economy even more. Already April in South Africa is a complete joke for business. "In the face of the economic downturn, we will have to act prudently - no wastage, no rollovers of funds - every cent must be spent wisely and fruitfully," he said... slightly hypocritical, since his R750K inauguration party.
I think the president speech was great and hopefully the promises they made will be fulfilled. I like the fact that he also mentioned this economic downturn thing and the actions that are to be taken to overcome this problem. Overall the speech was really good.
Nathiz, King Williams Town
We have just lost more than half a million jobs in areas such as mining and the motor industry. Like all politicians talk is cheap and they are seldom able to back up their talk with the specifics of how they are going to achieve their agendas, which leave plenty of scope for backing down when they are unable to deliver.
Keith Grant, Ficksburg
I think Mr Mandela stole the spotlight during the event, and Zuma's promises weren't too clear. What is he planning to do in order to carry out his promises?
This country could easily slip to the brink of crisis. The majority of people live in desperate squalor. Zuma's first major speech essentially said nothing new, no more than an expected appeasement to the 'masses' who voted him in and to those who assisted him politically, in particular the 'left'. Extravagant promises are just that. A sense of accountability and civic duty and responsibility has become weak. Social systems, infrastructure and law and order are failing due to inept administration. Zuma will need to do much more than promise people a better life. Lets hope he has the will and the strength.
Wells Julien, Cape Town