14 February 2011
President Jacob Zuma has conceded that the government alone will not be in a position to provide the jobs South Africa urgently needs, and has called on the country’s private sector to come on board in the employment creation drive.
Zuma told the SABC, in an interview aired on Sunday, that the government would have to partner with other social partners in order to achieve its employment targets.
“It’s not like the kind of challenge that could be faced by one, it’s a challenge that needs all of us to participate, to some degree it’s a national challenge that needs all of us … it needs the government, it needs business, it needs the unions,” Zuma said.
R9-billion jobs fund
In his State of the Nation address on Thursday, Zuma announced that the government would establish a jobs fund of R9-billion over the next three years in order to finance new job-creation initiatives, while the private sector would get billions in tax breaks to stimulate job growth in manufacturing.
The government has listed job creation among five key priorities to be tackled in the coming medium-term period.
During his address in Parliament, Zuma said the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) had set aside R10-billion over the next five years for investment in economic activities with a high job creation potential.
Departments will also be required to table their plans on job creation, while a plan will be devised to ensure that all vacant posts in the public sector are filled.
Doing things differently
On Sunday, the President said that while the state will be doing its part, it would require all the support it can get to address the “unacceptably” high unemployment rate in the country.
“The fact of the matter is that we need to change the manner in which we have been doing things … You will appreciate that I said we going to put together all the small financial institutions that have been dealing for example with the economic activities helping businesses.”
The government would also ensure that South Africa’s state-owned enterprises were roped in the job creation drive in the form of internship training programmes and learnerships.
“Public enterprises are going to be looked at rigorously … as they need to ensure that they come on board. One of the things we will be looking at here is to ensure that we employ people who qualify for the jobs.”
Education, health, social welfare
Turning to education, health and social welfare, Zuma reiterated that education would remain the focus of his administration, warning that wasting of teaching time would not be tolerated.
“We have made the right choice of making education as the apex of our priorities; we went further to divide the department which was very huge and the tendency at the time was that the concentration was on higher level rather than the basic.
“Now we have got a 10-point plan at the level of basic education, and I think we are doing the right thing.”
To alleviate poverty and boost social security, Zuma said, the government would use the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme introduced in provinces such as Limpopo and the Eastern Cape last year to ensure economic activity in rural areas.
The authorities also planned to give a third of the 1.2-million South African households living in informal settlements security of tenure within the next three years.
People in rural areas had the skills needed to look after livestock, and ways would be explored to allow people to use these skills for economic benefits, Zuma said.
“Why don’t we introduce dairy farming and say we will bring cattle for them so that they are able to look after cattle in their herd, they are able to get milk and put it in the market so that they are able to earn something, and I believe there are many other things we can do.”
On health, Zuma said the long-awaited National Health Insurance policy would be made public soon and, in preparation for the scheme, the government planned to improve health care this year by appointing appropriate and qualified personnel to the right positions.
“We need qualified heads of department, chief financial officers, hospital chief executive officers, district health officers and clinic managers,” Zuma said.