thumbs up for zuma

JOB CREATION: President Jacob Zuma after delivering his maiden state of the nation address in Parliament. Pic: Kenridge Mathabathe. 03/06/2009. © Sowetan
JOB CREATION: President Jacob Zuma after delivering his maiden state of the nation address in Parliament. Pic: Kenridge Mathabathe. 03/06/2009. © Sowetan

President Jacob ZUMA has set himself a difficult task. Starting from today Zuma's government has to create 2380 jobs every day.

This works out to the 500000 jobs Zuma promises by the end of the year.

Job creation is one of the cornerstones of the five-year plan Zuma unveiled yesterday, including the creation of 4million jobs by 2014.

Zuma has set SA on a high developmental path despite the current global economic crisis, arguing that instead of hindering SA, the crisis should make the government more determined to deliver on its promises.

With this promise Zuma injected a glimmer of hope into the nation in the face of the doom and gloom brought on by the threats of a deepening economic crisis.

Zuma set the tone for all sectors of society to get to work as the government forges on with a R787billion infrastructure development programme to act as a stimulus to spur economic activity.

Following his state of the nation address yesterday, labour, civil society, business and the markets agreed that growing the local economy is the only way of ensuring the economy survives the effects of the recession.

Zuma's address turned out to be a mixed bag of opportunities for all citizens, with the promise that 500 000 jobs will be created by the end of the year at the heart of the new hope injected by the president.

In the same tone, he bemoaned government policies that were strangling the business sector and increasing the cost of doing of business in South Africa.

"We will reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. The matter of being stifled by regulations has been raised by the sector several times.

"Government will move towards a single integrated business registration system," he said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions was equally upbeat with its spokesperson Patrick Craven saying Cosatu "welcome the decision to establish a programme to fund companies that are in distress".

"Cosatu also welcomes the commitment that the government will buy more goods and services locally."

Economists and analysts say Zuma's ambitious plan of creating 500000 jobs by year end was not feasible.

Zuma said the government has acted on reducing the tide of job losses.

"There is an agreement in principle between government and the social partners on the introduction of a training layoff.

"Workers who would ordinarily be facing retrenchment due to economic difficulty would be kept in employment for a period of time and re-skilled," Zuma said.

Economist Lumkile Monti said it was difficult to talk about new jobs now.

"Unless one is talking about an extended public works programme, although those are not long-term jobs.

"This would be contrary to the ANC's manifesto in which they promised decent jobs for all and the phasing out of labour brokers," Monti said.

He said it was difficult to forecast new jobs presently.

Tony Twine, senior economist at Econometrix, said Zuma was not specific on the details of how this was going to be done.

"I am afraid that is where the devil lies, the issue of job creation in his speech is not the 'how' but the 'what'.

"One needs a broad plan and there is no detail on how this is going to be done or whether these jobs would be sustainable or not," said Twine.

Political analyst Professor Adam Habib slated Zuma's speech as being thin on detail.

"The speech says everything but it says nothing interesting. It lacks strategic focus because he [Zuma] did not want to offend either business or Cosatu," said Habib.

He said he found it strange that with almost 30percent of communists in government, Zuma's speech lacked an element of radicalism.