The government’s target of creating 5-million jobs by 2020 is unlikely to be met because of a range of factors — including labour unrest and the strained relationship between the state and big business, says Economic Development Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
Job creation is a key goal of the government’s New Growth Path economic blueprint, which envisages annual economic growth of 7 percent. But the Treasury estimates it to be 3 percent this year and most economists believe it will be less.
However, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Friday that the party would not revise down the jobs target.
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Ms Mkhize said in an interview on Monday the situation required social partners — including labour and business — to be circumspect about the realities of the economic environment, including SA’s downgrading by three rating agencies in the past 12 months.
She said that if social problems related to poverty and unemployment were not tackled, SA was "not going to attract any serious investors". This meant that business, the government and organised labour had to move beyond their sectoral interests and focus on the big picture.
Ms Mkhize said she recognised the problems in the relationship between the government and the private sector, caused by the "cynicism of business, which is sometimes understandable".
Cabinet ministers and ANC leaders have criticised Anglo American Platinum’s decision to mothball shafts and sell a mine, which may result in 14,000 retrenchments. But they have not criticised Harmony Gold’s intention to close a mine at a cost of 6,200 jobs.
Meetings are planned this week between mining bosses and ANC leaders in a bid to minimise the effect of mining sector upheavals on SA’s investment status.
Workers in the mining and agricultural sectors — wracked by violent strikes in the past few months — are in the ANC’s core constituencies and general elections are due next year.
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