Zuma says S.Africa on the mend but needs more jobs


South Africa’s economy is recovering well from last year’s recession but the government needs to do more to create jobs, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

In a speech to parliament a year into his presidency, Zuma also assured lawmakers that all was ready for a successful and safe soccer World Cup, starting next month.

“All indications are that we are recovering from the recession, our economy is growing and investors are showing confidence in our country,” he said.

Africa’s biggest economy returned to growth in the third quarter of 2009 after the first recession in 17 years, but while factory output is gathering pace, jobs are still being lost.

About a million jobs have been shed since the start of 2009 and data last week showed the official unemployment rate rose to 25.2 percent.

Zuma said the government’s response to the global crisis and domestic downturn, including public works programmes, had helped to limit the damage to the economy, but stressed that the world economy remained weak, evident in the euro zone debt problems.

The recently unveiled industrial plan would target certain sectors to ensure jobs are retained and new ones created, while an expanded public works programme and investment in education would help to boost skills.

Zuma welcomed a joint statement from the country’s main labour federations and some manufacturers calling for policy intervention to boost employment, though, in a later interview on public broadcaster SABC, he dismissed calls for wholesale change to policy.

“Of course people have the right to say let’s change everything (but) is that the solution?”.

The group of trade unions and manufacturers appealed to the government on Monday for measures to help boost growth, including pegging the rand at a weaker level, after blaming its relative strength for stifling exports.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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