World economy stymied SA job target: Zuma

By Drum Digital
11 September 2013

South Africa remains off track when it comes to meeting its promise two years ago of creating five million jobs by 2020, President Jacob Zuma conceded on Wednesday.

Responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces, he pinned the blame for this on the world economy.

"To reach the target of five million jobs over 10 years, we would have needed to create half a million jobs every year between 2010 and 2020.

"This has not happened thus far, as the world economy has not fully recovered from the global financial crisis," he told MPs.

Reading carefully, and at times haltingly, from his written reply, Zuma said the demand for South African products by the country's key trading partners was low.

Local firms were not confident that investing in new factories would result in additional sales.

Furthermore, "some industries have not been producing at sufficient levels because of industrial relations disputes".

Posing a question, Democratic Alliance MP Michael de Villiers noted that unemployment in South Africa had increased by 122,000 during the second quarter of this year, and that the rand was now worth R10.56 to the dollar.

"Don't you think it is high time now for Parliament to debate unemployment and the creation of jobs in South Africa?" he asked Zuma.

The question came close to being ruled out of bounds by NCOP chairman Mninwa Mahlangu, who advised the president he was not compelled to answer.

"The Honourable Member is just needing some opinions from the president," Zuma responded, to laughter from members across the House.

He said the global economy was under great pressure.

"Europe, under the EU [European Union], has been the most pressurised."

These countries, together with the US, were among South Africa's major trading partners.

"We had predicted growth at a particular level. We couldn't reach it precisely because of the economy," he said.

Present in the public gallery on Wednesday were several Cape Town city councillors, and a large group of students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Also present were DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and her party's chief whip Watty Watson, who left after Zuma's earlier replies.

Asked why she had come to listen in person, Mazibuko said she was interested because it was only the second time Zuma had responded to questions in the NCOP.

Later, Congress of the People MP Dennis Bloem asked Zuma to give the House a "true reflection of what is going on in the country", given that more and more people were losing their jobs and that the mines were retrenching workers.

The president said a number of mining companies were saying that because of the state of the economy, they might have to retrench workers. However, it was not for the government to prescribe to them.

"I don't think we can prescribe to companies what they need to do or not do."

-Sapa

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