President Jacob Zuma. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg -

President Jacob Zuma has promised to invest in youth development and job creation programmes.

This includes establishing a R10 million fund to help rural youth.

He encouraged young people to start their own small enterprises to take advantage of the government’s R1 trillion infrastructure investment over the next five years.

Addressing a three-day Presidential Youth Indaba in Boksburg on Sunday, Zuma also committed to ensure new government buildings, roads and public transport to be constructed before 2019 catered for disabled people.

He made the pledge after some delegates raised concern about several public areas that were not user-friendly to people with disabilities.

He promised to crack the whip and personally look into their concerns.

“More than R1 trillion has been invested in national infrastructure projects. Given the success of this programme, over the next five years we will forge ahead and prioritise the development of energy, public transport, information and communication technologies, and water supply.

“In our manufacturing sector, we will promote local procurement to increase domestic production and the creation of decent jobs.”

Zuma said his government had regained the 1 million jobs lost as a result of the 2008 global economic crisis.

“Employment is now higher than it has ever been, with 15 million being employed. The proportion of adults with access to banking services grew from 60 percent in 2009 to 75 percent last year, which indicates a growing economy.”

More children now had access to school, while his government has also increased the student financial aid budget.

The president added that on March 14, the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund, run by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), would be launched.

“This is a R10 million fund designed to provide financial support to youth, primarily in rural areas. The NYDA also continues to run the successful National Senior Certificate Second Chance Matric Rewrite Programme to afford young people who have failed matric a second chance to obtain their National Senior Certificate.”

Zuma said more than 8 000 young people had been assisted to rewrite their matric.

However, he raised concerns that, 20 years since democracy, people’s incomes were still race based.

“For historical reasons, income distribution and growth are still racially skewed despite the progress made since 1994… This indicates that the apartheid legacy is still looming large.

“Census 2011 revealed that the income of the average white household remains six times that of the average African household.”

He encouraged the youth to start their own enterprises and industries.

“The state must also actively support small enterprises, co-operatives and broad-based black economic empowerment. This will assist many youth-owned enterprises.”

While the president was upbeat about his infrastructure development plans, he pleaded with the youth to provide him with evidence of incomplete projects, particularly in Limpopo. He needed evidence to act.

According to Zuma, 420 000 new jobs had already been created, mainly in the construction industry linked to the government’s national infrastructure development plan; the trade sector; business services; transport; and communication. - The Star

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