Zuma pledges jobs for the poor

2011-01-08 17:56

President Jacob Zuma has promised to make job creation his ­government’s priority this year.

Addressing about 60 000 ANC supporters at an event to mark the ANC’s 99th birthday at Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba ­Stadium yesterday, ­Zuma said the ruling party was committed to “addressing unemployment through practical measures”.

He did not tease out those measures, but said job creation was the only way the poor could be freed from poverty.

Government departments would be ­expected to put in place ­measures to enable an environment conducive to job creation.

In line with his government’s new macroeconomic strategy, the New Growth Path, Zuma said parastatals and development ­finance institutions would also play a key role.

Zuma said: “South Africa has already shown that we are capable of successfully driving ­massive infrastructure projects in preparing for the 2010 World Cup and we will build on that experience to drive further projects in housing and other social areas.

“We will also make sure that these projects lead to more inclusive growth by meeting the needs of new industries and historically excluded communities.

“The ANC-led government will make sure that public procurement is used to support the ­domestic manufacturing sector, which should lead to more jobs.”

Earlier in the day, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema said the only way to free the country from poverty was to ­implement a programme of ­nationalisation.

He said: “Nationalisation is the solution to the problems we are facing.” Malema took aim at big businesses, especially those owned by whites.

“We cannot allow the economy to continue to be in white hands. We want an economy that looks like Parliament,” Malema said.

Speaking to City Press after Zuma’s address, Malema said: “The president spoke like a leader of the youth league. We are very happy with the speech.”

Zuma on health

The president said the government should fast-track implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, saying the development of time frames was a crucial first step. The scheme was expected to kick in next year.

He warned those in charge of public health facilities to avoid appointing unqualified staff, to address the problems confronting public health care.

“The interventions must include appointing qualified personnel and improving infrastructure, such as rebuilding dilapidated clinics and hospitals,” Zuma said.

“The ANC must also ensure that government increases the training and employment of doctors, nurses, health technicians and other health professionals.”

Zuma on local government

Revisiting his promise to ban political office-bearers from holding senior municipal management positions while delivering the anniversary address last year, Zuma said ANC structures would abide by that proposal “while looking at other mechanisms to address the challenge”.

Attempts to introduce legislation to enforce this ban seemed to have hit a snag and the ANC’s national general council proposed that the ruling party should merely regulate the matter internally rather than by statute.

He asked party structures to work hard to win back the municipalities that they controlled and make inroads into those they did not.

Zuma on education

Zuma pledged to convert government-issued study loans to disadvantaged final-year university students into full bursaries if they passed all their courses this year.

This means they would not be expected to repay the state their 2011 loans.

The ANC leader said this reform would trickle down over time to include all those who benefited from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

The proposal ties in with the ANC’s 2007 national conference resolution to introduce free undergraduate education.

The president also promised to continue building mortar and brick structures where there were mud schools.

Zuma on media freedom

Zuma threw his weight behind the idea of a free media.

Steering clear of the controversial proposal to introduce a media appeals tribunal to regulate the print media, the president said South Africa needed a strong and diverse media “that is independent of commercial and political interests” and supported nation-building.

“We will continue encouraging the print media in particular to speed up transformation processes in line with the attainment of freedom and democracy in 1994,” he said.

Zuma cancels e.tv interview

President Jacob Zuma pulled out of a scheduled interview with e.tv at the last minute yesterday.

The station’s crew had set up their ­cameras and were ready for the ­interview when Zuma’s spindoctors ­cancelled.

City Press understands that Zuma was unhappy when he learnt that he would be interviewed by Nikiwe Bikitsha, who asked him during a broadcast last year about his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik’s application for a ­presidential pardon.

e.tv news editor, Ben Said, confirmed the cancellation but had yet to confirm the ­reasons.

ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi ­said yesterday the cancellation was due to Zuma’s tight schedule.

“If there’s an insinuation that someone was unhappy with the line of questioning, it is not from the ANC.

“If we had a problem last year, why would we have considered an interview?” Mnisi said.

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