Revving up the nation

2011-02-12 17:25

Moffet Mofokeng and Sabelo Ndlangisa speak to President Jacob Zuma

Civil society has welcomed your remarks on the establishment of the R9 billion jobs fund to finance job creation initiatives. Do you think the state has the capacity to deliver a project like this?
I think we should by now appreciate that we are working hard to change the way ­government works. We want to ensure that government works properly, ­efficiently. That is our effort.

We have established, for example, the National Planning Commission, which says we need to have an overarching plan for the whole country so that whatever we do talks to that plan so that we don’t have individual plans of departments and the different spheres of government moving in different directions.

We have also established the ­monitoring and performance evaluation department to ensure that what government is doing is monitored so that if we discover shortcomings, we are able to prescribe remedies immediately in dealing with the problems.

We are dealing with a government that is not just saying we are going to continue with business as usual in terms of what do we do.

I have made the point that we must pass the stage where we only come to know whether government is performing well or not when we see the report of the auditor-general. We need to know as we go forward that we are doing things right.

The kind of projects that we therefore could undertake is with that in mind.

I have also been talking about ­employing people to the right positions, not employing people because we know them.

A position that needs a qualified person must have the relevant person unless you are talking about jobs that do not have qualification as a ­requirement.

You spoke about decent jobs. Don’t you think the emphasis should be on job creation generally, and not just “decent work”?
We need decent jobs. We have been saying so (for some time). Some people, I don’t know what their appreciation of decent jobs is because there is a ­definition by the (International Labour Organisation).

It says that a person must be employed, must have all the benefits, all the rights and everything, the person must not be overworked, the person must work in the time that is allocated.

That is what we are talking about. There is nothing extraordinary because if we didn’t say that, then we could end up with many other things that people are doing, like exploitation of workers.

We are saying in another sense, let the ­people have jobs so that there is more employment of people.

All I’m saying is let us stretch our ­imagination and our innovation so that we create jobs and decent jobs.

Those who say just (any kind of) jobs, are ­imagining the definition that people put to the decent jobs.

Perhaps they are ­narrowing it instead of saying what it is that we could do in creating decent jobs.

One of the ideas that came out of your speech to social welfare was that social grants should be linked to economic ­activity in the long run. How do you see this in practical terms?
The fact that we have dealt with people up to the age of under 18 that must benefit is an intervention that deals with very deep poverty, which is not our creation. It is the creation of apartheid for a variety of reasons.

For us to move away, we have to deal with that issue.

One of the things that is being done to tackle that issue is actually the emphasis on education because part of the problem is that apartheid undermined the majority in terms of education.

We have therefore said poor people must begin to work towards (ensuring that) poor kids do not pay school fees.

That is one aspect that has started ­already. We are also saying, without getting into a lot of details, what else we can do to ensure that these people are economically active.

We can introduce certain economic activities, which we are saying those responsible must begin to look at.

There are many things we can do in the rural areas in a meaningful sense. We are aiming at a situation where the receivers of the grants are the aged and disabled.

What about a family where the granny is raising her orphaned grandchildren? What will her obligations be?

As I am saying, we have not looked at the detail. If you take that one case, for example, it’s easy to say you have nothing.

Can you make fat cakes and sell them to the nearest school as the grandmother? Then all you do is give her ­R10 000 to buy ingredients. It’s a beginning of a process that’s augmenting (her income).

You spoke about the establishment of a state mining company and the beneficiation of minerals. What is the timeline for this process?
The state mining company is actually being established. It’s a question of launching it. That’s crucial because the state must intervene in that kind of fashion.

Beneficiation is what we are working on very vigorously because we’ve come to a point where we can no longer ­allow a situation where our raw materials are taken away, (and) we are not able to beneficiate them here.

That process is also ongoing and I’m sure down the line we are to announce what we are doing.

We want to create industry that is based on what minerals we have. And we are discussing with some of the ­mining companies that want to come to mine here. That is going to be a very serious attached condition.

The ANC Youth League was very happy when you spoke about this and said we are taking back what belongs to us.
 
Would it be wrong to conclude that the state is moving towards the nationalisation of mineral resources?
I don’t think that’s what it means. You know what the ruling party said must be done specifically on the question of nationalisation. That does not necessarily translate into nationalisation.

These are measures that we’ve been ­taking all the time. It does not translate to that.

You spoke about the youth subsidy in your last state of the nation address, but you did not mention it this time. Is there a reason?
We talked about it last time and I think the unions in particular reacted to it and, unfortunately, they have not come up to deal with the matter.

That is one of the matters we are going to be taking forward with the unions.

Why it is important to do so?
There is a challenge that we collectively must mind. If we are talking about young people who get out of tertiary ­institutions, they have the skills.

What they do not have is experience, therefore, the companies say we can’t take you because you don’t have the experience.

But every year they swell the ranks of the unemployed. Should we allow that, or should we find a way to address that issue?

We have got to discuss that with our colleagues. That is the reason we did not raise it this time because we have not had time to exchange views on the matter.

Nationalisation
Zuma says his speech did not confirm that the state

will nationalise mines.

“You know what the ruling party said must be

done specifically on the question of nationalisation (the ANC is 

conducting ­research).

These are ­measures that we’ve been taking. It

does not translate to nationalisation.

State-owned mining firm
The state mining company is being established; it’s a question of launching it.

That is crucial because the state must intervene in that kind of fashion.

Beneficiation is what we are working on very vigorously because we’ve come to a point that we can no longer allow a situation where our raw materials are taken away, (and) we are not able to beneficiate it here.

Decent jobs
We need decent jobs. We have been saying so (for some time).

Some people, I don’t know what their appreciation of decent jobs is, because there is a definition by the (International Labour Organisation).

It says a person must be employed, must have all the benefits, all the rights and everything, the person must not be overworked, and must work in the time that is allocated. That is what we are talking about.

Efficient government
I have made the point that we must pass the stage where we only come to know whether government is performing well or not when we see the report of the auditor-general.

We need to know, as we go forward, that we are doing things right.The kind of projects that we therefore could ­undertake is with that in mind.

No more jobs for pals
I have also been talking about employing people to the right positions, not employing people because we know them.

A position that needs a qualified person must have the relevant person, unless you are talking about jobs that do not have qualifications as a requirement.

Youth subsidy
The proposal (for a youth subsidy) we made in the last (state of the nation address) was to say this is one way of helping them (youth) to have what they do not have so that they enter the market.

We have got to discuss with our colleagues (unions) how we solve this problem.

That is the reason we did not raise it (the youth subsidy) this time, because we have not had time to exchange views on the matter.

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