Honourable Minister of Labour, Ms Nelisiwe Mildred Oliphant
Honorable Premier of Limpopo, Mr Cassel Mathale
MEC for Economic Development, Ms Pinky Kekana
Executive Mayor for Capricorn District Municipality, Mr Lawrence
EXECUTIVE Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), Mr Patrice Motsepe
Chief Executive Officers of various entities
Heads of Departments from various national and provincial departments
We are gathered here today as South Africans take stock of the gains and
strides made by our citizens during the commemoration of August as
Women’s Month. But more significantly, we are rounding off this
historic period as a number of events continue to test our nation as a
firm and consolidated democracy.
In its January 8 Statement last year, our glorious revolutionary
movement, the African National Congress NEC declared that, “We must make
the decisive shift to meaningful economic transformation and set in
motion a very deliberate programme that will ensure that the benefits of
our political liberation are shared amongst all our people. . .”
Whilst it has been 18 years since the inception of democracy, and the
historic defeat of the apartheid regime by the gallant forces of the
Mass Democratic Movement, South Africans today are still grappling with
the critical issues of inequality, poverty, unemployment and a wide
range of socio-economic challenges.
Our people have struggled selflessly for freedom from oppression. We
cannot fail them when it comes to the struggle for the elimination of
poverty. To this end, the ANC will always be at the forefront of
engaging with every role player in this economy and marshal our forces
towards the goal of achieving the eradication of poverty. This will
include the deepening of empowerment of black South Africans in general.
We have to live the promise of the Freedom Charter, which states amongst
others, that all our people will share in the wealth of the country.
In order to achieve that, the ANC states that we have to “strive for a
labour market that is conducive to Investment, Economic Growth,
Employment Creation and Decent work”. As such, we have to provide bold,
imaginative and effective strategies to create the millions of new jobs
that South Africans need. This requires a combination of initiatives
that require direct state involvement, private sector partnerships, as
well as the mobilisation of civil society to take a proactive interest
in addressing the problems presented by unemployment.
Ladies and gentlemen, the ANC supports this initiative by the Department
odirectly interact with the communities in order to enlighten them on
what’s currently available in the labour market when searching for work,
study opportunities and to start own businesses. According the former
Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala,
“In South Africa, the gap between those with the resources to influence
government and those whose influence, for historical reasons, is limited
by poverty and disadvantage is deep and wide. Thus there is a very real
danger that, while the voices of the powerful may be heard, the majority
remain imprisoned in the silence to which their history and
circumstances have condemned them”. Hence we have to ensure that
platforms such as these are not only afforded to people in urban areas,
but to rural areas as well because they are, by far, most marginalised.
Added to these challenges is the issue of youth unemployment. Further to
the challenges faced by the youth is that within the South African
historical context, race is a significant determinant of both poverty
and inequality. Other challenges faced by the youth include quality of
education, inaccessibility of tertiary educatof curriculum to adequately
prepare youth for the open labour market.
Given that education has the ability to lift young people out of
poverty; it is especially those from poor households that are in need of
quality education in order to improve their lives. This is due to the
fact that higher levels of education mean increased chances of finding
employment, and the potential for increased levels of income, and
therefore, decreased levels of poverty.
The youth unemployment challenges in South Africa are closely related to
the inability of young people to obtain employment owing to their lack
of experience, which is all too often compounded by a lack of skills.
The result is a growing cohort of young people with severely limited
access to formal sector employment, and limited means to do anything
about this. Therefore, this jobs summit lays the platform for the youth
to access valuable information in order to succeed and make a brighter
future for themselves and their families.
After all, every State should provide its young people with
opportunities for obtaining education, for acquiring skills, and for
participating fully in all aspects of society, with a view to, inter
alia, acquiring productive employment and leading self-sufficient lives.
The quest is no longer about fiscal expansion, rather policy
coordination and reprioritizing some programmes over the others. It is
also important to note that the youth is not a homogenous group,
therefore different strategies are needed for different challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen, whilst South Africa is faced with its fair share
of challenges, but these are not necessarily unique to us. Since the
global economic crisis, growth has slowed down worldwide, thus many
targets cannot be achieved.
According to the Mid-Term Review of the Priorities of Government, one of
the biggest challenges with regard to job creation and economic growth
is the low government investment, especially at provincial and local
government levels. Compared with the private sector and the state owned
entities, government investment level is very low. In addition,
corruption and incompetence in planning, infrastructure budgeting,
procurement and maintenance at the provincial and local levels are
obstacles to job creation.
Our history is proof that South Africans are people of strength and
resilience when faced with challenges. We therefore cannot be
discouraged and indulge in self-pity due to challenges we are faced
with. Rather we have to work harder and use all that is at our disposal
to achieve victory.
The Department of Labour’s Public Employment Services provides a free
service to the public by registering and placing the unemployed. Through
the PES legislation, the Department of Labour seeks among others to
ensure: improved access to the labour market for work seekers, provide
opportunities for new entrants to the labour market to gain work
experience, improve employment prospects of persons with disabilities,
improve employment prospects of work-seekers and employees facing
retrenchments; facilitate access by work seekers to training and,
promote employment growth and workplace productivity.
However, one of the challenges facing the success of this service is the
low employer registration rate, as employers from both the private and
public sector continue to prefer to advertise in the media and to use
the services of Private Employment Agencies to source labour. We
therefore plead with employers, including government departments to use
this service, especially since it is free and since the Department of
Labour is expanding its facilities to reach isolated rural areas in
order to render much needed services.
Towards the end of July, the Portfolio Committee on Labour invited
submissions on the Labour Relations and the Basic Conditions of
Employment Amendment Bills of 2012. Currently, the National Economic
Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) is busy discussing the Public
Employment Services Bill that Public Employment Services programme. All
these labour regulation
amendments are not only geared towards improving workplace relations but
to also create decent work for all.
Besides employment opportunities, we have to expand the horizon by
recognising that we do not have to be employed in order to gain income,
but that we have to explore business opportunities, no matter how small
they may seem. However, by international standards, South Africa still
lags behind with regard to employment levels in the small business
sector. In this regard, the Review proposes that there should be more
support for small enterprises that are currently disadvantaged in their
always been to translate this into action.
When writing about the global economic crisis, Dan Cunniah (Director,
Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO) said “...one dimensional thinking
has been a major reason for the severity of the global economic crisis.
We need a plurality of ideas in order to develop and ultimately choose
between different policy options”.
Therefore, what we have here is not cast-in-stone; we invite young
people to continuously use such forums to not only receive what we
suggest to them, but to critique and generate ideas to improve
government policies and programmes.