We have done well - Zuma

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mangaung - President Jacob Zuma says government has made progress in the five priorities his administration identified when it took over the reins in 2009.

He told a business briefing hosted by the New Age and SABC in the Free State on Thursday, that successes have been registered in the areas of health, education, fighting crime and corruption, rural development and creation of decent work. Government will soon release a Mid-Term Review outlining the challenges and successes of the current administration for the past three years.

But, Zuma conceded that while government could speak of successes, it should not be complacent to the many challenges still facing the country.

"Too many households and communities remain trapped in poverty, unemployment and inequality and are unable to access the opportunities created by an improving political and economic climate," he said.

Zuma told the gathering of about 100 business leaders that "the unfinished business" of economic transformation, accelerating economic growth and job creation was an on-going work.

Government will be using the New Growth path for the country to tackle the challenge of poverty and under development, he said.

Asked to comment on the issue of the youth wage subsidy, which the National Treasury has recommended as one of the short and long term solutions to the problem of youth unemployment, Zuma said discussions over the proposal will go ahead as government continues to find "multi-prolonged" strategies to tackle youth joblessness.

The differences over the matter played themselves out this week when clashes broke out between Democratic Alliance and trade union federation Cosatu supporters during a march at Cosatu headquarters in Johannesburg.

Zuma condemned the violence, saying it had no place in the country's democracy.

"We feel that this matter is being discussed at NEDLAC and we also feel that there was no need for a protest ... but then it's a democracy, we can't stop people from protesting. But we condemn the violence that we have seen and we hope it's not going to be repeated."

The issue of unemployment should not be "politicised" but South Africans needed to unite to tackle the problem.

"It is something that we take seriously and government is paying attention to this matter and we should not reduce it to politics," said Zuma.

The proposal of youth employment support was just one of many government interventions intended to alleviate youth unemployment in the country while other measures included increased access to higher education, Zuma said.

"Already we have programmes to turn loans into bursaries for successful qualifying final year students at universities, while qualifying students can study for free at Further Education and Training Colleges."

Zuma also told the event, which was broadcast live on television, that government was concerned about the perceived increase in the reported cases of child abuse in South Africa.

He condemned the reported gang rape of a Soweto teenager allegedly by seven men urging law enforcement agencies to move with speed in bringing the case to finality. The case had highlighted the need for all members of society to assist the police in dealing with crimes against women and children.

"Such brutality has no place in any normal society and we can never condone or tolerate it," said Zuma. He applauded the police for moving swiftly in arresting the suspects.

The police and courts, he said, were there to ensure that they protect all victims of violence and abuse. To this end, the SAPS had reintroduced the specialised Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to ensure that cases were resolved as speedily as possible.

"But beyond the law enforcement agencies, we need society to work with us, rallying around this critical matter," added Zuma.