President Cyril Ramaphosa says unemployment was the greatest challenge facing South Africa at this moment in its history. Photo: Reuters

CAPE TOWN – Unemployment was the greatest challenge facing South Africa at this moment in its history, said President Cyril Ramaphosa at the two-day National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) #JobSummit which began in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The president said unemployment diminished South Africans’a ability to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and improve the lives of the working class and poor. 

He said: “We gather here today to answer the call of the people of South Africa for decent work. We have gathered here, as social partners, having agreed on a broad range of measures to create and protect jobs.”

Ramaphosa said the jobs created over the past few years have not kept up with population growth. 

The president expressed contempt for state capture and corruption, which he said had undermined investor confidence and public trust, eroded key institutions of the state and diverted resources intended to support development.

“Our economic performance has also been undermined by state capture and corruption in both public institutions and private companies,” said Ramaphosa. 

The president said significant levels of public investment in infrastructure, which kept the economy afloat following the 2008 global financial crisis, has been tapering off as consumption spending and debt servicing has consumed a greater portion of our budget.