Zuma stresses importance of skills development

South Africa’s state enterprises are vital to the development of the country, African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma said in Durban on Friday.

Speaking at a Black Management Forum (BMF) dinner to honour him, Zuma said: “We see a very critical role of state-owned enterprises.”

He wants to see the enterprises responding to “a clearly defined public development mandate” while helping with the country’s transformation.

Referring to the role of the enterprises in training the youth, he said: “We would like to see the enterprises resuming the role they played in the past, of training young people for various trades as artisans.” He said such skills are badly needed in the country.

Despite the country’s progress in “transforming the economy to benefit the majority, serious challenges of unemployment remain”.

Zuma called on the BMF to provide expertise in helping the government to become more efficient. “A document that takes two days ... they [the government] will do it in two months,” he said, adding that the government needs to speed up its delivery.

Earlier, BMF president Jimmy Manyi said: “We want to recognise you as the president-elect of the country.”

He said the organisation supports Zuma’s call for parastatals to play a bigger role in training people and providing skills, but added that the BMF is against “skills importation”.

He said many people who arrive in the country supposedly to pass on skills are not doing so, but are simply passing the time until they have lived here for five years, at which time they can claim permanent residence.

“There has to be proper utilisation of the country’s existing skills. There is no skills transfer coming from these people. We are looking at you [Zuma] to say that the employment equity must continue,” he said.

Manyi used the opportunity to call for a review of the existing CPIX basket, saying this is incorrectly used to adjust interest rates. “The BMF is concerned about interest-rate increases which are breaking the backbone of the economy, especially the middle class.”

Referring to the recent interest-rate hikes, Manyi said that South Africans are being punished “for things they don’t have control over”.

He also referred to rising oil prices that have in turn affected the level of inflation.—Sapa

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