1.2m jobs created but levels of unemployment remain high

2015-11-24 21:00
Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel. Picture: Leon Sadiki

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel. Picture: Leon Sadiki

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Up to two million jobs were created in South Africa since the government launched the New Growth Path in 2010, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel told delegates at the ongoing Cosatu national Congress in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Presenting a report back on progress made by government in growing the economy, Patel said more than 1.2 million of the new jobs were created since the last Cosatu national congress in 2012.

However, he said, in the same period 1.7 million more people entered the labour market.

Gauteng led in terms of the number of new jobs and Northern Cape came last. Also, the construction sector created more jobs, followed by the government and the business or finance sector. Manufacturing lost more than 58 000 jobs.

Patel said more men were getting employment compared with women. More than 400 000 young people were among the beneficiaries “but levels of unemployment remain high”.

He said South Africa had made progress with job creation but as a result of poverty and inequality, “the current efforts needs to be scaled up”.

He said union membership grew by 40 000 to 3.6 million since 2012. But a total of 1.2 million workers were not unionised, said Patel, which he blamed on trade unions not keeping same rate of recruitment as before.

Also, the number of unionised workers dropped from 29% in 2012 to 27% in 2015.

Patel said employers determined 56% of wages paid to workers, while those wages set as a result of negotiations between employers and unions made up 20%. The bargaining councils were responsible for 8%.

He said the GDP, currently standing at 4 trillion, grew by 5% since 2012, amounting to a rate of 1.6% a year.

The population and the economy grew at the same rate in the last three years, he said.

Patel told delegates South Africa was rated the 31st biggest economy in the world, placing it on similar status as countries like Malaysia and Denmark. He said the economy grew by 0.67% in the past three months, avoiding a recession.

Manufacturing grew by 6.2% but mining and agriculture continued to shrink.

Patel said South Africa continued to export raw materials such as platinum, coal and gold and import finished products, including petrol, cellphones, computers, clothing, shoes and bulldozers. China and the US were among the country’s biggest export and import partners.

He said the government increased tariffs for food and items such as car batteries and set-top boxes to save local jobs. He said it defended the South African market in discussion with the United States on The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Those are the things we did to protect South African jobs, said Patel. “It demonstrates a government prepared to use instruments of the state to protect local jobs,” he said.

He said the public sector accounted for 14.2% of new investments compared with the private sector at 9.4%.

Patel also said action had been taken against cartels and monopolies including the raiding of companies and factories, conditions on mergers and fines.

He said the country’s infrastructure programme was the biggest in its history and in Africa, with R1 billion spent per working day and more than 200 000 jobs created. He said the government had 18 strategically integrated budgets responsible for various projects throughout the country.

Patel said up to 4 000 megawatts of energy were built since 2012, including the return to service of old power stations, the building of wind falls and the opening of Medupi. The government was also investing in green energy throughout the country but mostly in Northern Cape, he said.

President Jacob Zuma opened Medupi in August this year, bringing to the grid up to 794 megawatts.

Patel said social infrastructure built since 2012 included 362 new schools, more than 9 000 new beds for students, 274 new lecture halls and facilities, 11 hospitals and 71 clinics as well as dams in De Hoop and Spring Groove.

“But the massive rise in student numbers is a big challenge,” he said. He said there were currently 1 million students in higher education.

He said that in De Hoop local communities Jane Furse and nearby areas in Limpopo were struggling to get water, despite the new dam, because the local municipality was not playing its part.

“When local government does not perform we can build infrastructure but we cannot get it to the homes of our people,” said Patel.

He said the clothing and textile sector had created 1 000 jobs in the last two years, which was a significant improvement after periods that saw the sector lose up to 20 000 jobs a year.

Patel said the government’s plan to grow the economy focused on infrastructure development, industrialisation, investments in public and private sector, innovation and the creation of new products, the inclusion of workers and small businesses, the integration of the South African economy into Africa, strengthening of institutions and the implementation of programmes.

Newly re-elected Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini said it was “the first time that government was able to take congress to this detail”. 

“The government is practically working. This is practical evidence of what has been happening and not just photos,” said Dlamini.
Read more on:    cosatu  |  ebrahim patel  |  sdumo dlamini  |  jobs

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