18 February 2011
With the government declaring 2011 South Africa’s year of job creation, President Jacob Zuma has called for an “inclusive” economy in which the black majority, women, people with disabilities and the youth participate fully and meaningfully.
Addressing Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday in his reply to the State of the Nation debate, Zuma told MPs that the government would find it difficult to achieve its job creation target if the issue of transformation were not urgently addressed.
“No economy can grow as fast as it should, create jobs and be sustainable, if the majority of citizens are excluded,” Zuma said.
His address to the nation last week placed job creation at the forefront of the government’s action plan for 2011, with focuses also on education, health, rural development and land reform as well as the fight against crime.
Employment equity gap still too wide
But on Thursday, the President was more frank, saying that, in order to achieve these goals, the country had to build “a strong mixed economy, where the state, private sector, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other, to achieve shared and inclusive economic growth.”
He highlighted last year’s employment equity report, which indicated that 10 years after the introduction of the Employment Equity Act, white men continued to hold 63 percent of top management positions in the country’s private sector.
The report found that African women were at less than three percent and coloured and Indian women are at one percent each.
“We clearly need to work harder to close the gap,” Zuma said. “We established the Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council, chaired by the President, which began operations last year … we need to ensure that transformation does not fall by the wayside as we forge ahead to build our economy and create much-needed jobs.”
He said the government would continue with its plan to pursue growth in six key sectors in line with the New Growth Path. These were infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the “green” economy, and tourism.
Zuma noted that central to the state’s aim to provide decent jobs would be ensuring that more was done to stamp out corruption.
“Honourable Dreyer of the Democratic Alliance questioned the impact of our anti-corruption efforts and claimed, among other assertions, that the National Anti-Corruption Hotline was ineffective. That is incorrect,” Zuma said.
“Several achievements have been scored with regards to the investigation of cases of alleged corruption reported on the National Anti-Corruption Hotline, which we have shared with this House before.”
He said that 235 officials had been found guilty of misconduct since the establishment of the hotline. At least 35 officials had been suspended, 120 given final written warnings, and eight dismissed. A total of R100-million had been recovered from the perpetrators.
“Against this backdrop, it is clear that the hotline has had positive spin-offs, not only in terms of monetary value but also in terms of disciplinary action taken against perpetrators.”
A ‘performance-oriented’ state
Zuma also mentioned that measures would be undertaken to build a “performance-oriented” state through improving planning as well as performance monitoring and evaluation.
“The Presidency will receive quarterly reports that we will use to monitor progress and intervene where there are bottlenecks, on job creation and other commitments made. I will meet cluster chairpersons periodically to discuss progress. Honourable Deputy President Motlanthe will assist me in this task.”
He said the government was also busy implementing programmes that aimed at giving support for new farming enterprises in rural areas, infrastructure in townships for local traders, and services, advice and access to finance for emerging entrepreneurs.
Officials from the Industrial Development Corporation were busy assessing options for supporting investment in more labour-intensive industries, he added.
Turning to international issues, the President said South Africa would continue to provide support to Sudan following the successful referendum in that country.
“We congratulate Former President Thabo Mbeki on the contribution he has made in the Sudan, under the auspices of the African Union. The intervention produced a unique African solution to a long-standing conflict.”
South Africa has also taken the first steps to establishing formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and Somalia. This is should be seen as a clear signal of Pretoria’s commitment to political and diplomatic support to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia.
Zuma wished both Egypt and Tunisia well with the transition in the two countries, adding that the events that were unfolding in North Africa should not impact negatively on Palestine and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question.