File Photo: President Cyril Ramphosa.
File Photo: President Cyril Ramphosa.
South Africa’s unemployment crisis is the deepest in the world. File Photo: IOL
South Africa’s unemployment crisis is the deepest in the world. File Photo: IOL

PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said focusing on economic stimulus and growth would be meaningless without creating the much needed jobs for the millions of desperate South Africans.

"The stimulus and recovery plan recognises that growth alone is not enough – it needs to be accompanied by employment, specifically for young people and women. We need to achieve growth that is inclusive and redistributive," Ramaphosa said in his keynote address at the jobs summit in Midrand.

"Everyone has a role to play in forging a social compact to create jobs. Trade unions must continue to act as a check and balance. They must articulate and advance the interests of workers and must push back against exploitative practices and unsafe environments in the work place."

Ramaphosa said labour unions have taken up the challenge to work with employers to eradicate discrimination in the workplace, to promote labour stability, to reduce income inequality and to reach fair and sustainable wage agreements – "understanding that these are necessary conditions for increased levels of investment and employment".

Goods and Services

When it comes to business, Ramaphosa said firms have a specific responsibility to provide goods and services and to introduce training and new technologies and production techniques which increase competitiveness and productivity and reduce the negative impact on the environment. 

"Business leaders have taken up the challenge to better recognise the value of regulatory interventions which seek to root out private sector corruption and which seek to stimulate more inclusive growth through limiting anti-competitive conduct and structures," said Ramaphosa.

"An effective social compact requires a capable, developmental state, that has the resources and administrative capacity to offer workers and working class communities credible and effective programmes of service delivery. The developmental state must be capable of guiding and regulating market activity in such a way that the structure of opportunity is transformed and inclusive."

Ramaphosa said South Africa needs a new approach to growth and development – one informed by collective interest and which harnesses the capabilities of all social partners who should see themselves "as being irrevocably committed to creating a prosperous society where all our people live a better life in peace and harmony".

Meaningful progress

"We are agreed that our country cannot achieve meaningful progress without faster growth and a great deal more jobs. And we cannot achieve this if each of us works alone. We need to trust each other as social partners, to understand how our shared and individual interests combine, to cooperate and to work together for a common vision – a growing economy in which the benefits are shared by everyone," said Ramaphosa.

"Through this presidential jobs summit, we are each, as government, labour, business and community, confirming our determination to build a better South Africa for all. I want to conclude by reminding us what we said in the preamble to the National Development Plan - 'we have created a home where everybody feels free yet bound to others: where everyone embraces their full potential'."

The President convened the summit as South Africa grapples with stubbornly high unemployment, currently at 27.2 percent of the labour force.

As the summit kicked off on Thursday afternoon, a group calling itself Unemployed South Africans gathered outside the venue, arguing that their interests are not represented in the conference.

African News Agency (ANA)