9 November 2011
President Jacob Zuma says the 2008-9 global economic crisis taught South Africa not to count on growth for sustainable job creation, but to focus on strengthening productive sectors capable of creating employment on a large scale.
Despite continuing global economic pressures, and growing frustration among South Africa’s unemployed youth, Zuma was optimistic that things would improve soon, while reaffirming that job creation remained the government’s top priority.
He was speaking at the 5th National Convention of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
Slight decrease in unemployment rate
Quoting the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter, which reported that SA’s unemployment rate decreased from 25.7% to 25% in the second quarter and that total employment rose by 193 000 in the quarter ended September, Zuma said it was encouraging that the most growth was among people aged between 25 and 34 years.
“These figures may look like a drop in the ocean when one looks at the scores that still remain without jobs,” Zuma said. “However, for those individuals whose lives will be enhanced due to being gainfully employed, the statistics are most meaningful.
“And for those who are still searching for jobs … they want to hear that the situation will improve – and it will improve,” Zuma said.
The government aims to create five million jobs by 2020 through a new growth trajectory by increasing investment in infrastructure development, sectors such as manufacturing and the so-called “green” economy.
Zuma said South Africa had learned its lessons from the 2008-9 global economic crisis, which saw the country losing more than one million jobs. The lesson was that one cannot count on growth to create sustainable employment.
Rather, he said, the government was strengthening productive sectors such as infrastructure, mining and agriculture, rural development and manufacturing, because they created employment on a large scale.
Drive to cut ‘red tape’ blocking business
He told the congress that the government was working on other programmes in order to create job opportunities. He added that the number of public sector internships would be increased by five percent or 60 000 positions by 2013.
This would give young people work exposure and hold them in good stead when they went looking for formal employment.
Calling for more private-public partnerships in creating jobs, Zuma said the government was working on addressing “red tape” in the private sector, such as unnecessary regulatory delays and lack of financing.
Already, a task team has been set up to address bureaucratic blockages to major private investments and projects
“We are serious about the need for government to act swiftly to cut the notorious red tape,” Zuma said.