Zuma calls for jobs, private sector help

South African President Jacob Zuma called on the government and private sector to create jobs, setting aside billions of dollars to create work in Africa’s largest economy, hard-hit by chronic unemployment.

Live blog
State of the Nation address special report
State of the Nation address 2011

“We urge every sector and every business entity, regardless of size, to focus on job creation. Every contribution counts in this national effort,” Zuma said in his State of the Nation address to Parliament on Thursday.

Economists have been worried that his government is going down the wrong path by relying too heavily on the state to create work over the private sector while a presidential report said four major labour reform Bills his administration proposed could cause millions to lose their jobs.

Zuma reached out to the private sector and announced R20-billion in tax allowances to promote investment and expansion in the manufacturing sector.

“We cannot create these jobs alone. We have to work with business, labour and the community constituencies,” Zuma said.

He also said in the major policy speech he took to heart a soaring rand currency that has dealt a blow to exporters. Zuma said the country’s budget deficit is expected to shrink to 3% to 4% by 2013 from the current 6,7%.

Zuma said the state-run Industrial Development Corporation has set aside R10-billion to invest in areas that have high potential to create jobs.

He also proposed creating a R9-billion fund to reduce unemployment and find jobs for youth in the country where more than half of those under 24 are jobless and the overall unemployment rate has lingered at about 20% to 25% for years.

But the ANC has allocated billions of dollars over the years for job training only to find the money lost to inefficiency and corruption, with few economists expecting the latest plan to do little more than swell state spending.

The labour reforms, job fund and his administration’s new growth path, which calls on government initiatives to create five million jobs by 2020, have been aimed at pleasing the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Zuma has been backing a labour-friendly agenda ahead of local elections he said would be held before the end of May, trying to avoid any friction with Cosatu, which has used its two million members as a powerful vote gathering machine for the ANC.

“A lot of these measures are only going to make things worse,” said Gary van Staden, a political analyst with NKC Independent Economists.

Mandela ‘is not young anymore’
Zuma said former South African president Nelson Mandela was comfortable and receiving good care after being hospitalised for a respiratory infection.

“We need to accept the reality that president Mandela — who is loved by all of us, young and old, men and women, black and white — is not young anymore,” Zuma said.

Mandela (92) South Africa’s first black president, was hospitalised a fortnight ago raising fears over his health.

The hospitalisation created a media frenzy and Zuma called on South Africans to give Mandela more privacy during his treatment.

“We want to assure the nation that Madiba is receiving very good medical care, and is comfortable,” Zuma said.

Budget deficit seen down to 3% to 4%
Zuma said the budget deficit should fall from its current 6,7% to between 3% and 4% by 2013.

Zuma also said government was pleased with the performance of the country’s financial sector.

“It has proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of the recent financial crisis and the global economic meltdown,” he said.

Zuma also said concerns about the exchange rate had been taken to heart.

“Exchange control reforms that were announced in the medium term budget policy statement last year are being implemented. Further information will be provided by the Minister of Finance in the Budget speech,” Zuma said in his address.

R800m relief for flood victims
Zuma said the government had set aside R800-million for immediate relief to assist communities affected by the recent floods in the north of the country.

“We extend heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Our hearts also go out to those who were injured and who lost all their belongings.

“Let me use this opportunity to announce that government has set aside R800-million for immediate relief to assist communities.”

Funds would also be earmarked to deal with post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in the years ahead.

“We thank relief agencies, non-governmental organisations, private sector, religious organisations and communities for assisting those in need,” Zuma said. – Reuters, Sapa, I-Net Bridge

For the latest news, multimedia and tweets from the State of the Nation Address, see our special report.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Jon Herskovitz
Jon Herskovitz has over 313 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

How graft arrests came together

Learning from its failure to turn the Schabir Shaik conviction into one for Jacob Zuma, the state is now building an effective system for catching thieves. Khaya Koko, Sabelo Skiti and Paddy Harper take a look behind the scenes at how law enforcement agencies have started creating consequences for the corrupt

Richard Calland: South Africa needs a Roosevelt style of leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to hold ‘fireside chats’ and have more power and institutional muscle around him, writes Richard Calland

This beef smells like manure

What’s that animal sound? Is it a Hawk swooping? A chicken roosting? No, it’s Zuma remembering a beef

Editorial: Arrests expose the rot in the ANC

The ANC has used its power to create networks of patronage. And this means going after corruption will cost the party financially

eThekwini’s everlasting security contract

An invalid contract worth R85-million a month is still being paid — three years after a court order to stop

Zuma vs Ramaphosa? Neither is the leader South Africans deserve

Neither statesman could command sufficient authority in an ANC that remains mired in corruption and infighting and at the behest of big capital

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

The Nigerian government is killing its citizens — again

‘Nigeria kills its people. Nigeria has always killed its people.’

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday