Both the Democratic Alliance and trade union Solidarity say in statements the president has no plan of action to create jobs for the 8.3 million jobless in SA or to plans to prevent more people from losing their jobs.
Solidarity says they have received formal notice of at least 13,840 jobs that could be affected by retrenchments in 2016. In spite of this, Zuma did not acknowledge this real crisis facing the South African labour market and government’s role in the crisis in his speech.
“The 13 840 jobs that could be affected by retrenchments only include the formal notifications received by us since January 2016. This does not include cases dating from last year,” said Paul Joubert, senior economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute.
According to Joubert, the solution to the problem is to strive for less, not more, government intervention.
Mmusi Maimane, Federal Leader and Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) says Zuma needed to announce fresh, bold and innovative new interventions and plans of action to create jobs for the8.3 million jobless South Africans “trapped in the hopelessness and poverty of unemployment”.
Yet he announced no new plan to address our unemployment crisis and create new jobs. It is quite clear that Zuma is simply unable to kick-start our ailing economy, and create hope that we can build a united, non-racial South Africa, with opportunities for everyone.
His lack of action in this regard will be another shortcoming to add to the long list that has so aptly characterised his presidency. But, more importantly, it will leave the 8.3 million jobless without any hope of finding work.
Maimane says every year Zuma utters a few meaningless words on fighting corruption and cutting wasteful expenditure. Yet every year he leads the charge on committing acts of corruption – Nkandla being the gold standard.
The DA says Zuma could at least have done the following minimum:
A decisive commitment to avert another credit ratings downgrade by international rating agencies. Our fragile economy will struggle to recover from being downgraded to “junk status”, and the President must guarantee the country that he will do all it takes to prevent this in 2016;
A plan of action to address our disastrous State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), including South African Airways (SAA), Eskom, Post Office and Prasa. Our economy can ill-afford to continue throwing billions of rands in the form of bailouts into the these failing SOEs;
A comprehensive plan on how government will raise capital to keep us afloat in 2016 and continue delivering services to South Africa. This plan ought to exclude more costly borrowing, and without squeezing more tax out of already overburdened taxpayers. The President ought to be particularly bold in this area, and should commit to selling off state assets and cutting waste;
An announcement declaring the drought a national crisis, and an explanation as to how he intends to support farming communities to ensure our nation’s food security is protected; and
A proper working plan on Higher Education, focusing on how to increase NSFAS funding so that no student is left behind. Moreover, Zuma needs to produce plans on how to improve the schooling of poor, predominantly black learners – particularly in our rural areas.
One thing was made clear tonight – President Zuma has not one shred of legitimacy when it comes to the economy. And without a thriving economy, we will never create the millions of jobs we so desperately need.