Cape Town: South Africa is holding up amid the suppressed global economy and the continuing uncertainty over the Eurozone, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
Speaking at a New Age Business Briefing following the State of the Nation Address in Parliament last night, Zuma called for persistence among South Africans as he acknowledged that the economic challenges that are currently facing major world economies could impact South Africa’s progress.
“The regions that we do business with have been affected by the economic challenges, so whatever we do they impact us,” he said.
He said while he believed South Africa’s economy was doing “relatively fine”, government had called on its partners to assist in charting a way forward.
“If the leading countries in the economic sense are the ones that are affected, it therefore says all of us will be affected. But at the same time, South Africa is the leading economy on the continent…we are therefore under pressure to get it right all the time,” Zuma said.
He again repeated his assertion that government was doing well in its roll-out of the infrastructure plan demanded by the country’s New Growth Path strategy.
This follows an undertaking he made in his address on Thursday that by end of March this year, various government departments would have spent about R860 billion since 2009 on various infrastructure projects around the country.
The President pointed to work done on key economic and social infrastructure projects such as the Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor, the expansion in the Durban port, construction at Ngqura port in the Eastern Cape and the upgrading of Mthatha airport’s runway and the construction of the Umzimvubu Dam.
This morning, he again called for all sectors in the country to support the National Development Plan (NDP), which was approved by Cabinet, saying it outlined the necessary interventions to meet certain development targets.
Commenting on the youth wage subsidy proposal, Zuma said the debate at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had taken too long.
He said the debate on the youth-wage subsidy would continue, but that in the meantime Nedlac had mooted incentives for companies to hire young people, and an accord to include this would be signed between the government, business and labour later this month.
Part of the move to develop rural areas, he said, was to create employment in the countryside, as large numbers of people continued to move to cities to search for work.
Zuma yesterday revealed during his address that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was planning nine Rural Youth Hubs per province, including in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
The government will also use the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work Programme to absorb young people. Answering questions on the perception that corruption in South Africa was worsening, Zuma said the government was addressing corruption.
“We are even discussing the tender system… to restrict the possibilities of corruption,” he said. “It’s not as if we aren’t fighting corruption – we are,” he added.
Yesterday, during his address to the nation, Zuma said to boost the fight against corruption, all vacant posts in the upper echelons of the criminal justice system would be filled. The President also fielded calls from television viewers across the country and those who followed the interview on social networking sites such as twitter and Facebook.