Zuma, premiers meet on job creation

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretoria - Serious about addressing the challenges of unemployment, the President's Coordinating Council (PCC) held its first meeting of the year on Tuesday to try to map out a collective approach to the problem.

The PCC, chaired by President Jacob Zuma, and consisting of the Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Treasury, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the nine provincial premiers, among others, discussed the need to coordinate job creation.

Government has declared 2011 a "year of job creation", with the State pinning its hopes on the economy creating more than five million jobs in the next 10 years.

Zuma, who labelled the meeting as "useful", said they also looked at other issues like the preparations for the upcoming local government elections, a report on government's response to the recent flooding and how they can coordinate the provision of services across all spheres, and to detect and correct failures in service delivery.

"This has been useful because people were sharing experiences and challenges on this question [job creation] and premiers had an opportunity to present what they are doing." 

The President pointed out that government has been working to strengthen the legislative and policy frameworks to ensure that provinces know their role in achieving job creation.

Premiers, who where given a chance to express their views about the meeting, all agreed that they faced similar challenges and that the PCC was the key platform where they can reflect and learn from their success and challenges. 

Nearly every province has had its share of protests at grassroots level and reasons for the discontent are common, from the slow pace of service delivery in housings, to allegations of corrupt municipal officials. 

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Monkonyane said the PCC is imperative because it helps monitor and evaluate, and allows for the sharing of best practices. 

She said it will also measure if government is moving forwards or backwards in terms of its job creation target.

"We are learning a lot from one another ... we are all striving towards a sustainable and prosperous country, though we have different roles and responsibilities due to locations." 

KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize was of the view that progress was made in ensuring that job creation is priority for all. However, he said there are other issues that need to be resolved before it can be accelerated to a higher level.

Western Cape Premier Hellen Zille, who is also the only premier representing the opposition party, said the forum is key in cooperative governance and worked "exceptionally well." 

Zille, who said she was given time to articulate her views even though some had contrary views, said the issues put on the agenda are often taken seriously and certain steps are taken to address the challenges raised.

"This is a very useful forum where you put challenges from all provincial governments ... it's one place that gives me confidence in local governance," said Zille. 

SALGA, which was represented by its chairperson Amos Masondo, said the meeting had set out a firm foundation that will enable municipalities to go ahead and engage with extensive planning, so that at the next meeting - the role municipalities can play will be clear.

Zuma has been on a drive to make job creation everybody's priority. Last week, he held a job summit with business, where he urged them to help government find solutions to the unemployment challenge facing the country.

Government will meet with labour sector organisations on 19 April for a dialogue on its respective roles in contributing to job creation.