Free State focuses on job creation

Monday, March 4, 2024

Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana says the province is hard at work to lessen the burden of unemployment.

In his State of the Province Address on Friday, Dukwana said unemployment fell from 38.5% in the third quarter of 2023 to 37% in the fourth quarter.

“Our Expanded Public Works Programme and the Presidential Employment Stimulus is a demonstration of our efforts to ignite economic growth,” he said.

Dukwana said since 2019, the province has created 282 907 work opportunities against a five-year target of 260 000 work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

“The Presidential Employment Stimulus enabled us to benefit from the creation of 87 357 job opportunities, supporting 24 733 livelihoods and retaining 1 680 jobs in the period between April to December 2023.

“These statistics include the 6 964 Education Assistants and 8 285 General School Assistants in the Department of Education. At the core of this education programme is the placement of unemployed youth in schools.

“This further illustrates how we give practical effect to our commitment to address youth unemployment. We must strengthen the coordination and maximise our participation in this programme,” Dukwana said.

He said a strong agricultural sector is key for food security, job creation, poverty alleviation and rural development.

“Work is underway to position the Free State as the champion of the agricultural green revolution in the country. A total of 4 543 producers were trained, and 249 students graduated from the Glen Agricultural College.

“We facilitated 19 023 export certificates, 29 419 hectares of land was rehabilitated and 987 hectares was cultivated using conservation practices. This will preserve the environment and increase production of organic products.

“Work is underway to avail provincial and municipal land for youth, women, people with disabilities and military veterans for farming purposes. We will increase investment to support the commercialisation of black farmers, investment in agro-logistics infrastructure and open new markets,” he said.

Dukwana said the province is hard at work to position the Free State as the country’s central energy logistics, distribution and beneficiation hub.

“The province has immense opportunities in natural gas, solar, coal, ethanol, wind, uranium, hydropower and hydrogen to power the future of our country,” he said.

30 Years of democracy

Dukwana said with 2024 marking 30 years of freedom and democracy, there is much to take note of.

“It is a year that builds a bridge between our tragic past, encouraging present and a brighter future... With the birth of democracy, the stage was set to carve a path anchored firmly on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights,” Dukwana said.

The Premier said central to the democratic transformation process is improving the living conditions of South Africans and fostering shared economic growth.

“Driven by the relentless desire for a better life for all, we have over the past 30 years, invested time, resources and commitment in fighting the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“The courage of our people continues to be rewarded. Their hopes and dreams continue to be the spark that impels us to even greater heights. Signs are everywhere that the Free State is a province on the move, confident in our actions and optimistic in our future trajectory.

“We are making the most of our potential, harnessing our development efforts and leaving no one behind in a Social Compact with our people,” Dukwana said. –