27 January 2012
South Africa is working towards a thriving mixed economy that is integrated into the southern African region and African continent as a whole, President Jacob Zuma said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.
“In June last year,” Zuma told a gathering of South African businesspeople, “26 African countries signed an agreement to create a free trade area that covers more than half of Africa.
“By June 2014, nearly 60 percent of the economy of Africa will be a single free trade area, covering the Southern African Development Community, the East African community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.”
Towards job-creating growth
Zuma told the businesspeople that the government’s economic transformation programme meant “[continuing] to work towards achieving a thriving mixed economy, premised on creating inclusive employment-creating growth.
“This is an economy where the state, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership work together, complementing each other to foster shared economic growth and eliminate poverty.”
As part of the country’s efforts to alleviate poverty in the short term, the government was supporting employment creation through public works programmes which have proven to be effective in providing short-term jobs, while close to 15-million South Africans receive grants.
“Our social assistance programme creates a caring society. We are improving the economic situation and working towards finding means to provide able-bodied grant recipients with skills to help them become independent.
“With regards to youth support, government has directed that the number of public-sector internships be increased to 60 000 positions by 2013. This will expand the number of public internships more than tenfold.”
South Africa, after hosting the United Nations’ COP 17 climate change conference in December, was also working to achieve a sustainable economy that was not harmful to the environment or the health of its people.
“We are proud of our progress so far in shaping a new model of economic governance and growth – one that is dynamic, sustainable and increasingly inclusive.
“That is not to play down the very real challenges that we face,” Zuma said, adding that the South African economy could not be sustained unless more was done to address social ills and economic exclusion.
“We must also develop strategies for managing the instability of the global economy,” Zuma added.