Dependence on wage earners falls over 30% in 18 years

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cape Town – The number of South Africans dependent on those working for a wage has fallen from four people per wage earner in 1994, to 2.7 people per worker last year, the Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said on Thursday.

Briefing the media in Parliament on progress made on infrastructure development and jobs, Patel pointed out that a net 603 000 jobs had been created since the adoption of the New Growth Path in October 2010.

The total number of South Africans employed moved from 12.9 million at October 2010 to 13.5 million in December last year.

Most of these jobs were created in agriculture (50 000), mining (30 000), the public sector and in the transport sector.

Limpopo was one of the provinces which benefited the most. Patel attributed this to the construction of the Medupi power station by Eskom in the province, which had helped create new construction jobs, while businesses linked to the construction site had also created new jobs.

However, he said South Africa’s challenge was to create enough jobs for its burgeoning youthful population.

Patel stressed that government had achieved its job target for both years 2011 and 2012 – adding that it had significantly exceeded the 250 000 target for 2011 and marginally over its 2012 target.

However, he said the key challenge would be in 2013 as government had to deal with sluggish growth.

He believed a significant amount of growth could come from exports. He pointed out that 90 000 direct jobs dependent on exports to rest of African continent – with 25 000 of these jobs having been created since the adoption of the New Growth Path.

Turning to infrastructure projects, Patel said 675km of electricity lines were laid last year – the highest in more 20 years.

Added to this a total of 21 000km of roads – equal to almost the entire length of the African coastline – under went repair and maintenance last year, he said.

Also underway is the construction of the De Hoop dam, which would together with the Mooi Mgeni Dam, add 126 million cubic metres of water. This is more than the water consumption of Pietermartizburg and Mangaung combined.

And construction on the country’s first new large rail line since 1986 – the Majuba Rail coal line in Mpumalanga – would commence in the next four weeks.

Patel, who said the Infrastructure Development Bill was published last week for public comment, pointed out that the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) now monitors about 44% of all state infrastructure projects on a quarterly basis.

This translates to about R24 billion spent every quarter – providing jobs to about 145 000 people across the country.

Most of these jobs are expected to be created in energy projects (43 000) and roads financed through the various national funded programmes.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said the department would in coming weeks release a framework for providing support and assistance to manufacturers of electric vehicles.

He said the department would release the fifth iteration of his department’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) next month.

Davies said the experience had shown, since the launch of IPAP2 in 2010, showed that industrial policy can and does succeed in South Africa if it is well designed, is supported across departments in government, is adequately resourced and is informed by robust and constructive stakeholder dialogue. –