President Jacob Zuma’s announcement on Thursday that more jobs were created in the economy last year has been widely welcomed.
During the State of the Nation Address in Parliament, Zuma said figures released this week had shown that the rate of unemployment had fallen from 25% to 23.9% as a result of new jobs. During 2011, a total of 365 000 people were employed, the country’s best performance since the recession of 2008.
“Of course we welcome the fact that the initiatives have paid off and that jobs are continuing to be created and we are recovering even though we are still below the levels of 2008 – it’s good progress,” Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told BuaNews.
Government declared 2011 as the year of job creation, with Zuma earlier saying that all the new jobs were being created in the formal sector of the economy in sectors such as mining, transport, community services and trade to name a few.
“I think the most exciting part about the speech tonight is the infrastructure programme that the President unveiled. We think it will go a long way in arresting the issue of unemployment,” said Davies.
He added: “We are going to have to work very expeditiously to keep up the momentum because the world economy is also in trouble… I think if we get this infrastructure programme going in the manner that it has been outlined, there is a very good chance of creating even more jobs even though the world economy will be against us.”
Public Works Minister Thembelani Nxesi, whose department plays a crucial role in government’s wider employment initiatives, said it was pleasing that government was playing a leading role in job creation.
“We think that Public Works will continue to play a very big role in ensuring that we don’t reverse the employment opportunities that are emerging. There’s a lot of pressure as the President has outlined but all of us need to make sure that we get the infrastructure going and we will see the jobs we want,” Nxesi said.
Public Works planned to double the scale of projects in the next three years mainly with regard to roads construction, building of bridges and other infrastructure, he said. As part of the contribution to the income of the poor, the target for one million work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme was achieved in 2008.
“In the absence of the private sector, we think that Public Works is going to be crucial in both addressing our aging infrastructure and creating jobs; but what is going to be important is to ensure that we are not only creating these jobs but make sure that they are also sustainable.”
General Secretary of trade union federation, Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi also applauded the inroads made in employment creation but said more needed to be done.
“We welcome the fact that new jobs were created last year and plans are there to continue in that direction but we believe that the President should have said something about the issue of labour brokers – a practice we have been saying must be banned,” he said.
The fact that billions of rands will be pumped into an infrastructure programme will assist in the speedy recovery of the jobs that were lost in 2009 and 2010. – BuaNews