South Africa is a nation at work


South Africa, led by the ANC, is a nation at work. We are building a better life for our people during a gloomy global economic climate. We have taken concrete measures to reduce the negative impact of the global economic downturn on our economy, and to prepare for robust growth when the economic cycle turns positive.

We are also working hard to remove domestic impediments to growth. Government and business are working together, more than any other time, to find ways of re-igniting growth. We have been vigorously implementing the Nine Point Plan that I announced in the State of the Nation Address last year.

Energy is high up on the agenda. During last year’s Presidency Budget Vote debate our country was facing an acute energy challenge. We have made remarkable progress since then. There has been no load shedding for close to a year now. It is clear that the decisions and steps we took are beginning to bear fruit.

We are also using infrastructure as a key instrument of creating jobs and to build a better life for all. In the past year, we can count the building of 160 new schools, 29 new clinics, the connection of 245,000 houses to electricity and building close to 150,00 new houses. The construction of three universities, 12 technical colleges and courts is ongoing.

The construction of economic infrastructure is also continuing as we deliver rail, road, dams, bus rapid transit systems, refurbishing ports, building boats and also the three new power stations.

South Africa is a nation at work, with government leading the way, in building a better life for all.

Our plan to reignite growth includes the implementation of Operation Phakisa, the Big Fast Results Methodology that we learned from the Malaysians. We launched Operation Phakisa in the Oceans Economy in Durban in 2014. In less than two years we have invested billions of rand on infrastructure development.

Transnet’s National Ports Authority has allocated R7 billion for building port infrastructure. Investments in boat building and a fuel storage facility have been committed in the Port of Cape Town amounting to about R3.6 billion. An amount of R80 million has also been allocated for the rehabilitation and maintenance of proclaimed fishing harbours in Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordons Bay and Lamberts Bay. The establishment of three new harbours in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal will provide opportunities for local and rural economic development.

Resolving workplace conflict and promoting labour stability is one of the key priorities of government as we work towards inclusive growth. Work is underway at NEDLAC to agree on a framework for speedy labour dispute resolution and to finalise the level of the national minimum wage.

Growing up in a free South Africa should enable our youth to pursue their dreams and undertake any career path, as artisans, scientists, business leaders, lawyers or artists. We shall not rest for as long as some of our youth still sit in street corners with no jobs and no skills to offer.

Government has also taken concrete and direct steps to encourage youth employment and training through public employment programmes. An example is the War on Water Leaks programme of the Department of Water and Sanitation, which will draw 15,000 young people to be trained and employed as plumbers, artisans and water agents.

Every government department has been tasked with ensuring that its programme targets young people for development. We have also urged municipalities to prioritise youth employment programmes.

On June 16 last year we launched the Mara Mentor youth online mentorship scheme, pairing young entrepreneurs with CEOs of companies. By April 2016, over 340,000 young people in our country were being mentored by 269 mentors.

The Status of Women in the South African Economy Report, produced by the Ministry in The Presidency responsible for Women, has exposed gaps and shows that we must do much more to empower women in the economy.

In September 2015, I issued a directive to economic cluster departments to place the empowerment of women centrally in their plans and in particular, in the Nine Point Plan to further grow the economy. Progress is being made. The departments of Human Settlements, Public Works and Small Business Development are utilising the approach of set-asides to enhance women’s empowerment.

Women contractors were allocated over R3 billion of the Human Settlements Development Grant for the 2014/2015 financial year alone. This allocation was shared by over 112 female-owned enterprises.

We continue to contribute in various ways to building a better Africa and a better world through participation in various multilateral forums. Through the African Union Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, regional and cross-border infrastructure is being developed to facilitate trade and investment.

At a global level, South Africa participates actively in the work and meetings of the G20. South Africa is also the co-chair of the G20 Development Working Group and has consistently promoted the mainstreaming of the development agenda in its engagements within the G20.

The 8th BRICS Summit will take place in India in October 2016. We continue to support the coming into operation of the BRICS New Development Bank, including by hosting the African Regional Centre in Johannesburg. The Bank recently approved a renewable energy project for South Africa to the value of US$ 180 million.

We will continue with various bilateral engagements as well, with countries on the continent and beyond, as we pursue our goals of building a better life for all in our country, and contributing to building a better Africa and a better world.

** This is an edited extract from the address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the Presidency Budget Vote debate, National Assembly, Cape Town, 4 May 2016


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