The National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) is disappointed with the fact that President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address lacked a more detailed vision to address unemployment and job creation effectively.
‘His address lacked a clear vision or fresh ideas to tackle the challenge of unemployment and job creation. While President Zuma spoke at length about government’s infrastructure rollout plan, which is to stimulate job creation, there was no acknowledgement of current obstacles to employment, which, unless addressed appropriately, will always stand in the way of any initiative to create jobs,’ says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.
In his address the President noted that the business community told him that, in order to create jobs in line with the government’s vision, the economy has to grow three-fold, and for that to happen certain obstacles need to be removed.
It is widely recognised that South Africa’s current structures of collective bargaining, minimum wages and our rigid labour laws are counterproductive and not conducive to address this national challenge.
'The President’s address was an important opportunity to challenge leadership in government and in all industries to find a solution to this important issue,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA is cautiously optimistic about the President’s reference to a Job Fund for the youth. The question is; is government moving away from suggestions of a youth subsidy.
‘NEASA welcomes any indication that government will scrap the notion of a youth subsidy. We need to create an environment which attracts business and job opportunities. We should stop to think along the lines of subsidies, which are not sustainable in the long run. We need the youth to actively contribute to the economy and wealth creation and in order to do that we must remove the obstacles that are preventing them from entering the labour market,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA commends government for its endeavour to bring stability to the mining sector which is one of the key drivers of the economy and investment.
‘We are especially delighted with the fact that the President laid to rest speculation around possible nationalisation of mines. This will go a long way to reassure current and future investors,’ says Papenfus.
Government’s support towards small businesses, with specific reference to a programme by the Presidency which requires all government departments to pay SMMEs within 30 days, is commendable.
‘Government’s drive to crack down on corruption on all levels of society is also very encouraging. We urge the state to illustrate drastic steps and consistency with regard to these measures and not to allow it to be mere lip service,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA is delighted with the fact that government sent a delegation, under the leadership of Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, to engage with farmers and farm workers this week.
'We are also encouraged by the President’s commitment to continue with these engagements so as to ensure peace and stability in the agriculture sector. Government must continue to facilitate the continuous dialogue between the various roleplayers in this industry. The mere increase of minimum wages may proof to be counterproductive and the industry will need other interventions to improve both agriculture and standards of living of workers. The strained relations within the farming community need government to play the role of an honest broker to stabilise this extremely important sector,’ says Papenfus.
NEASA also welcomes the President taking issue with regard to rhino poaching during his address.
'The rhino-issue has become an embarrassment to South Africa and we are encouraged by government’s efforts to curb this atrocity,’ Papenfus said.
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Sya van der Walt
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