President Jacob Zuma has pledged to address deepening inequality in South Africa, tabling a series of measures covering everything from creation of decent work to investment in key infrastructure as part of what is to be done to address the challenges facing many South Africans.
In the first State of the Nation Address of the new administration, delivered on Tuesday night, President Zuma gave credit to the people of South Africa for making the country’s democracy strong in the past two decades.
The speech focused on the transformation of South Africa’s economy, jobs and infrastructure build and called for the economy to take centre stage in the transformation agenda of government.
Part of what the current administration is set to do will include:
- Embarking on a radical social and economic transformation
- Investing in infrastructure
- Promoting small business
- Fighting wage inequality
- Growing foreign investment
“The economy takes centre stage in this programme. It remains our strong belief that the most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty, is the creation of decent work, and that creating work requires faster economic growth,” said President Zuma.
“We have set a growth target of 5 percent by 2019. To achieve this, we will embark on various measures and interventions to jump-start the economy,” he said.
Most of his speech also focused on South Africa’s energy security, issues facing the youth, workers and the middle class, assuring South Africans that things are getting better, 20 years after the country attained its democracy.
Measures to assist youth
Government will introduce further measures to speed up the employment of young people, consistent with the Youth Employment Accord.
These would include expanding the number of internship positions in the public sector, with every government department and public entity being required to take on interns for experiential training.
“The private sector has responded positively to the introduction of the employment tax incentive. In only five months, there are 133 000 employees who have benefited and 11 000 employers who have participated in the incentive scheme.”
Transformation of the energy sector
Also in his address were proposals to radically transform the energy sector; to develop a sustainable energy mix that comprises coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas and nuclear energy.
“The transformation will require structural changes in the manner in which government departments, affected state owned companies and the industry as a whole address the energy challenges.”
Plans on the financing of the next large coal fired power station, Coal 3, will be speeded up so that the procurement process can commence.
“The energy plan also calls for the injection of capital and human resources into the energy sector. We will also need to identify innovative approaches to fast-track procurement and delivery by government in the energy sector,” he said.
Investing in infrastructure
There were also grand plans to continue investment on infrastructure as seen in the last five years.
Over the next three years, South Africa will spend R847 billion on infrastructure build and several projects are to be started or completed.
The construction of Mzimvubu Dam in the Eastern Cape will continue, and also the raising of the wall of Clanwilliam Dam in the Western Cape.
“During the next five years, the bulk of the construction work on Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project will be completed,” President Zuma said, adding that the next five years will also see government building more than 60 MeerKat dishes and start building the first 100 Square Kilometre Array dish antennas.
SA much better place to live in
President Zuma also gave an extensive account of government’s achievements in the past five years and these were mainly in the areas of education, infrastructure build, water provision, sanitation and electrification.
“We stated that South Africa is a much better place to live in than it was in 1994, and that the lives of millions of our people have improved. However, as the National Development Plan and the Presidency Twenty Year Review highlight, the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to affect the lives of many people.”
Grow foreign investment
The state will also continue to roll out the implementation of the Industrial Policy Action Plan. This will help promote local procurement and increase domestic production by having the state buy 75% of goods and services from South African producers.
“We will utilise the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing of buses, Transnet’s R50 billion locomotive contracts and PRASA’s passenger rail projects among others, to promote local content and boost growth.”
Government would continue to promote regional economic development and industrialisation, through the creation of Special Economic Zones around the country.
Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment
President Zuma promised to improve the implementation of the amended Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act, in order to transform the ownership, management and control of the economy.
Through policy interventions, government would promote more employee and community share ownership schemes and boost the participation of black entrepreneurs in the re-industrialisation of the economy.
In terms of promoting investment, President Zuma said government was determined to work with the private sector to remove obstacles to investment. We would like to see the private sector showing as much confidence in the economy as the public sector.” – SAnews.gov.za
The following two tabs change content below.