Zuma: Worst of the downturn may be over

There are signs South Africa is recovering from the worst effects of the global economic crisis, but the revival will likely be slow and job-creation will lag, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

Zuma was addressing tens of thousands of supporters in Kimberley, about 380km south-west of Johannesburg, for the 98th anniversary of the ANC’s creation.

“There are some indications that we may be recovering from the worst of the [global] crisis but this recovery may be slow and perhaps even temporary,” he said in a speech broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Zuma sought, however, to lessen the expectations of his supporters that new jobs will created soon.

“It should also be expected that the creation of new jobs on a massive scale will lag behind the economic recovery,” he said.

A survey conducted by Ipsos Markinor between October and November 2009 showed the ANC had consolidated its support after narrowly failing to achieve a two-thirds majority in last year’s election, with support of 71% of eligible voters.

The party drew most of its support from the ranks of the unemployed, with more than two-thirds (67%) of their supporters jobless.

The poll, published on Saturday, found Zuma’s approval rating has increased since he took office to a mean of 7,6 from 6,1 on the scale of 10, the most notable increases in minority racial groups such as Indians and whites.

Zuma assured his supporters that the ANC was still committed to its target of creating four million jobs by 2014, providing quality healthcare and ending corruption and crime.

Zuma is under pressure to deliver on election promises made last year, including drastically reducing unemployment which stands at about 25% after last year’s recession slashed nearly one million jobs.

Due to the economic downturn, Zuma was unable to meet his pledge of creating 500 000 new jobs last year.

The ANC government also faces pressure to improve basic services. Riots erupted in several poor townships across the country last year as residents protested over the lack of running water and electricity.

Zuma said unity of the ANC was paramount and that all party members must be united behind a programme of action developed by the party and its allies.

He said that everything they do should be aimed at improving the living conditions of all South Africans.

Zuma said the party will continue to take firm action against ill-discipline, corruption, incompetence and abuse of power in its ranks.

“We will be consistent and firm in acting against abuse of leadership positions or personal gain and factionalism,” he said.

Referring to local government, Zuma commended councillors who continue to serve the public with integrity and dedication.

Zuma also said the working relationship among alliance partners has improved.

“We consult each other and work together on key issues that affect our people, as we should,” he said. - Reuters, Sapa

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