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We are a nation at work

Written by Amukelani Chauke and SAnews
Government will set its sights on growing the economy and creating jobs to better the lives of all South Africans.

President Jacob Zuma delivers the State of the Nation Address.Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament and the nation about future plans for the country during his recent State of the Nation Address (SoNA), President Jacob Zuma unveiled practical plans to tackle unemployment, grow the economy and deal with the country’s energy challenges, among others.

The President noted that the country’s economy needs a push forward.

Government has a nine-point plan to help achieve this, he added.

The plan includes:

  • Resolving the energy challenge.
  • Revitalising agriculture and the agroprocessing value chain.
  • Advancing beneficiation or adding value to the country’s mineral wealth.
  • More effective implementation of a higher impact Industrial Policy Action Plan.
  • Encouraging private sector investment.
  • Moderating workplace conflict.
  • Unlocking the potential of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), cooperatives, township and rural enterprises.
  • State reform and boosting the role of state owned companies, Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure or broadband roll out, water, sanitation and transport infrastructure.
  • Operation Phakisa aimed growing the ocean economy and other sectors.
Creating jobs

The President said the latest Labour Force Quarterly Survey showed that there was light at the end of the tunnel on the jobs front.

“The report shows that there are now 15.3 million people who are employed in South Africa. Jobs grew by 203 000.”

Government aims to grow the economy to a rate of 5 per cent by 2019, an ideal target for the economy to bring down the unemployment rate notably.

 

Government’s investment in youth unemployment was also paying off, and the Employment Tax Incentive, which was introduced last year, was progressing very well, he noted.

The President said R2 billion had been claimed to date by some 29 000 employers, who have claimed for at least 270 000 young people.

In the previous SoNA, the President announced that government aimed to create six million job opportunities by 2019.

“We have thus far created more than 850 000 work opportunities. This means that we are poised to meet the annual target of one million job opportunities.

“In addition, our environmental programmes such as Working on Waste, Working for Wetlands, Working for Water and Working on Fire have created more than 30 000 work opportunities and aim to create more than 60 000 during the next financial year,” he said.

Government aims to grow the economy to a rate of 5 per cent by 2019, an ideal target for the economy to bring down the unemployment rate notably.

State-owned pharmaceutical company

President Zuma also announced that in fighting the scourge of HIV and AIDS, the state-owned pharmaceutical company, Ketlaphela, had been established and would participate
in the supply of anti-retrovirals to the Department of Health.

Government would continue to promote healthy lifestyles.

“On 10 May 2015, we will mark the Move for Health Day, an international event promoted by the World Health Organisation. The day also coincides with the anniversary of the inauguration of President Mandela,” said President Zuma.

Ending women, child abuse

He noted efforts being made to curb violence against women and children.

“The SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit has secured 659 life sentences against perpetrators of crimes against women and children.”

The President stressed that government would continue working harder to fight crime and create safer communities.

Ownership of land

One of the major announcements by the President during the SoNA was that government would propose a new law that would disallow foreign nationals to own land in South Africa.

He said the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill would be submitted to Parliament during the course of the year.

“In terms of our new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership will be set at a maximum of 12 000 hectares.

“Foreign nationals will not be allowed to own land in South Africa but will be eligible for long term lease,” he said.

The proposed law is aimed at protecting the interests of locals who would want to own property.

Protesting peacefully

President Zuma also appealed to communities to obey the law and protest in a peaceful manner.

“We are a democratic state and recognise the community's right to protest. We however appeal that these protests should be within the ambit of the law and must be peaceful as stated in the Constitution,” he said.

Broadband rollout

The year 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of broadband roll out in South Africa to give the economy of the country a major push.

President Zuma said government has designated Telkom as the lead agency to assist with broadband roll out.

Government will connect offices in eight district municipalities.

“These municipalities are Dr Kenneth Kaunda in North West, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, O.R. Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, Thabo Mofutsanyane in the Free State, Umgungundlovu and Umzinyathi in KwaZulu-Natal, and Vhembe in Limpopo,” he said.

For more information on SoNA see page 6 - 9.

Smart ID cards

In an effort to accelerate the rollout of the new Smart ID Card, government has partnered with local banks, President Zuma said.

“To further improve access to identity documents, citizens will from this year be able to apply for the new Smart ID Card at their local bank due to partnership between the Department of Home Affairs and some banks in the country.”

In 2013, Home Affairs introduced the Smart ID Card and the new passport as part of its modernisation programme.

The new ID card and passport bear strong security features, which significantly reduce the chances of fraudulently producing these two essential items.

For more information call the Department of Home Affairs Toll free Hotline: 0800 60 11 90