PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has pledged that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) will create 6-million job opportunities should it continue to be the national government for the next five years.
Speaking at The New Age breakfast that was broadcast on SABC 2 on Monday morning, Mr Zuma emphasised the phrase "work opportunities" twice.
Work opportunities is the term used by the government to describe the part-time jobs it has created for people mainly through its extended public works programme.
This programme employs people on a temporary basis often to do menial work such as street sweeping and the cutting of road verges.
The New Age breakfast was held following the release of the ANC’s 2014 national election manifesto at the weekend.
National Development Plan
Mr Zuma committed his party to the National Development Plan (NDP), especially the economic chapters that had been a bone of contention between it and its alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
He said the NDP had support by an "overwhelming majority of stakeholders".
However, Mr Zuma left the backdoor open for the NDP to be changed by calling it a "living document" and that Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) were welcome to engage on the economic issues.
Mr Zuma quoted the NDP, saying that the unemployment rate needed to be cut from the current 25% to 14% by 2020 and then down to 6% by 2030.
To achieve this, the NDP said a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 5.4% needed to be achieved. South Africa’s GDP growth rate is hovering around 2%.
"This requires the state to create 11-million jobs," he said.
Critical policy instruments
Mr Zuma said that apart from the NDP there were other critical policy instruments aimed at increasing employment, especially among the youth.
This included the New Growth Path economic policy, which had identified six job-creation programmes in infrastructure, agriculture, mining and minerals beneficiation, manufacturing, green economy and tourism.
He also mentioned the Industrial Policy Action Plan, which aimed at rebuilding South Africa’s manufacturing capability.
"In our (the ANC’s) manifesto we set a target of 6-million work opportunities ... in five years through the expansion of the extended public works programme," Mr Zuma said.
He said this would give work exposure to at least 4-million young people and help them with their further education, such as the mass literacy campaign.
Some of the work opportunities mentioned by Mr Zuma included the rural service corps, home-based care, and Working For Water.
Local producers and suppliers
Mr Zuma also spoke about the policy that the state would procure 75% of its goods and services from local producers and suppliers. This would apply to larger state-owned companies such as Transnet and Eskom.
State funding agencies would also be required to set aside funds for youth co-operatives and enterprises.
Another policy instrument was the youth employment incentive scheme that was signed into law in December.
Mr Zuma said the scheme would not displace or make older workers feel "uncomfortable" and that it would be reassessed in two years.
Mr Zuma also emphasised the ANC’s new stance to defeat corruption.
He said that any ANC leader who was found guilty of corruption would have to step down as an office bearer in the party, the government and in civil society.
Mr Zuma said the ANC’s election manifesto’s call for the creation of a centralised tender board would also bring many benefits.
He ended his speech by saying that the ANC had always been committed to a multiparty democracy and wished the other parties well in the upcoming national and provincial elections.