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Speech by Deputy Minister Buti Manamela on the occasion of the Progressive Business Forum, Johannesburg Country Club

19 November 2014

Programme Director
Convener of the Progressive Business Forum, Mr Daryl Swanepoel,
Eurasian Economic Commission led by Minister Tatyana Valovaya,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour and privilege for me to address this important gathering of the ANC Progressive Business Forum.

I would like to extend a warm welcome, on behalf of the Government of South Africa, to our honoured guests who are here today from the Eurasian Economic Commission.

It is through interactions such as these that we can learn more from each other and share best practice towards better economic development.

We have taken note of the advantages of an increased market as a result of your initiatives as the Eurasian Economic Commission represents 170 million people from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia in a single economic space.

As a country seeking enhanced regional, continental and international economic integration, we look forward to our further engagement in this regard.

South Africa is a member of one of the world`s oldest customs unions, the Southern African Customs Union, which comprises of Southern African countries Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. However, new challenges come up as time goes by. There is more to do as we move South Africa forward.

Government remains steadfast in its approach to build on the many successes within our region and globally. This demands of us that we recast our nets and shift our goal posts in order to focus on stronger and wider regional integration driven through the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Consequently as a country we are working as part of:

  • a continental initiative for deeper economic integration with the Southern African Development Community,
  • a common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the
  • East African Community towards a Free Trade Area.

These nations bring together 26 countries with a combined population of 600 million and an overall GDP of approximately 2 trillion US dollars. From where we stand as a developing region, this represents a significant leap that could enable the region to meet its various socio-economic development needs.

To further support intra-regional trade within the continent, a Trans African Highway programme has been established to link Africa`s capitals on eight major routes. As it is common knowledge, Africa`s development was curtailed by the colonial and neo-colonial subjugation when Africa was used as supplier of natural resources.

As a result, transport infrastructure was limited to the trade routes that sought to ship out of Africa these natural resources. As part of vision 2063, building on the legacy of the past 50 years of the OAU anniversary, comprehensive infrastructure development is vital for what some have characterised as "Africa Rising".

Esteemed Colleagues

As the year draws to a close, as a nation we end the year on a particularly high note having successfully marked our 20 Years of Freedom. Over the course of this year we have celebrated the many achievements we recorded over our democratic journey.

Without a shadow of doubt we can boldly say that South Africa is indeed now a better place than it was in 1994. While we have much to celebrate, we remain conscious of the ideal South Africa, a South Africa build on non-racialism, non-sexism, a united and prosperous South Africa that we all envisioned.

Over the next five years government has committed to deepen our economic transformation and the implementation of the National Development Plan as our strategic vision for 2030. The NDP is our overarching framework from which the axis swings towards various programmes.

Without a doubt, various Public Private Partnerships will remain an integral part towards achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. In this sense local and international finance are important as investments in the various sectors of our economy that will help us as a country to realise our socio-economic development objectives.

Our Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 - 2019 sets out 14 outcomes around which we will mobilise all sectors of our society. I will not delve into the details of these outcomes but I will invite you to peruse these on our website and see in more detail form how you could interface with our economic development space.

In this regard our department, the Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, has the important task to assess, monitor and measure the performance of the public service.

When the department was established in 2010 it was a clear demonstration of government`s commitment to ensure that our performance makes a meaningful impact in the lives of our people.

The department plays an important role in setting expectations of improved outcomes across government. It drives a results-oriented approach as we review government data so that the required performance information is generated.

We ensure that this information is used in inter-governmental planning and resource allocation. Our vision is to strive for the continuous improvement of service delivery through better planning, performance monitoring and evaluation. Ours is to make sure that government delivers!

We do this through coherent priority setting; robust monitoring and evaluation related to the achievement of outcomes and institutional performance monitoring.

We also monitor frontline service delivery, support change and transformation through innovative solutions.

We seek partners such as yourselves and other key stakeholders in the business sector to work with us on performance improvement in order to achieve our desired outcomes.

This is very important as we have realised that from the experience of the past 20 years we have often developed good policy instruments but failed in the implementation.

One important aspect that we must explain is that whilst the NDP assumes the Developmental State posture, it is to that extent that we seek business to play its role in working with government.

Like most post conflict or post economic depression economies, we too had to urgently meet the huge socio-economic challenges characterised by high levels of inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Gradually the global economy demands that we scale down on the `Welfare State` type of programmes in favour of the full economic participation of all our people without racial, gender and other related prejudices.

We are fully conscious that the primary role of business is to make profit. However, we are heartened by the very nature of the Progressive Business Forum posture that consciously seeks to advance our national development cause.

We are also heartened that the Eurasian Economic Community that seeks to partner with us. I trust that such a partnership bodes well with the speedy realisation of our development objectives.

You are thus uniquely placed at the forefront of business to help move South Africa forward. Join us in placing South Africa on a new trajectory.

Ladies and gentlemen

In order to reach our Medium-Term Strategic Framework targets and the goals articulated in our National Development Plan we need young people who are well educated and highly skilled.

My department has the responsibility of ensuring the effective development of our young people. It is by no means an easy task given the immense challenges we inherited from living under apartheid.

Our joblessness in the country tends to mirror our historical past where the majority of our unemployed are black youth.

Our figures show that for the next 20 years, South Africa will have over 14 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29. This number will peak in 2021 to reach 15.1 million. Clearly we are a youthful population.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for the development of our country. The National Development Plan itself singles out our youthful population as an opportunity to boost economic growth, increase employment and reduce poverty.

Even though our youthful nation is regarded as a positive indicator, viewed against the country`s unemployment statistics it is indeed a cause for concern. Of the roughly 25% of the unemployed, about 70% of these are young people between the ages 15 and 35 years.
Government has prioritised the advancement of young people, particularly in regard to their participation in the economy, so that they can take their rightful place within our society.

Through initiatives such as the Social Accord on Youth Employment, Employment Tax incentive and our many youth support programmes we are working to change the tide of youth unemployment. It is easier put on paper than actually done hence the importance of such platforms where we share notes on what needs to be done to take our country forward.

While the government has a role to play in reducing unemployment and has indeed pledged to do so, government alone cannot solve the problem. In fact employment is primarily an economic activity that should mostly be driven by the private sector.

As you will know, government cannot grow bigger whilst the private sector remains the same because government needs taxes from the private sector to fulfil its mandate.

Our Employment Tax Incentive seeks to bring government and the private sector together to fight youth unemployment.

Programme Director

South Africa faces an immediate skills shortage that is constraining our economy and continues to perpetuate inequalities. It has limited the opportunities to obtain employment and impeded our progress in transforming the economy.

Government through the work of the Department of Higher Education and Training is working to address the skills shortage in the economy. Measures have been put in place to boost our skills-base by expanding access to higher education and training.

We have increased enrolments at Technical and Vocational Education Training colleges, or TVET, which are being promoted as centres of critical skills that our economy so desperately needs.

Our Technical and Vocational Education Training colleges are ensuring that marginalised youth and those who have fallen out of the educational, social and economic mainstream have the opportunity to become active participants within the economy.

We bring this to your attention so that as the business community you meet government half way in appreciating the skills produced in this manner as opposed to the already existing institutional mechanisms.

Through these colleges we are giving young people the opportunity to reskill themselves and receive practical experience for life at work. Furthermore, we have established two new universities the Sol T Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga.

We further appeal to businesses to open their workplaces through learnerships and internships for these young people.

We urge you to familiarise yourselves with the Youth Employment Accord and contribute to its implementation by promoting youth development and youth employment.

Government together with community, labour and business organisations is committed to a Social Accord on Youth Employment which aims to introduce a large number of young people into the workplace.

For our part and in line with our commitment to the Social Accord on Youth Employment, government has opened training and internship opportunities across the Public Sector.

However, it cannot be left to government alone. The private sector is twice the size of the government and employs three times as many people.

Ideally we would like to see the private sector assisting to train and develop young people. We invite you to familiarise yourselves and link your business to a Technical and Vocational Education Training college.

Ladies and gentlemen

You can assist our department and the country to support our young people in one of the simplest ways; by giving your valuable time - become a mentor to a youth owned small business in your area, assist and inspire them reach to their full potential.

Work with the NYDA through their mentorship programme. The valuable skills and experience you impart can mean the difference between their success and failure.

I know this may not make business sense as no business would seek to groom a fierce competitor. So you can actually be innovative and mentor youth businesses in areas outside your core business portfolios. Amongst others this could be in areas you would outsource in support of your business.

Government, through the National Youth Development Agency, Industrial Development Corporation and Small Enterprise Finance Agency, is supporting youth owned business through a R2.7-billion Youth Fund aimed at creating millions of sustainable jobs in the country. I urge business to take advantage of this partnership.

It is our responsibility to empower young people and give them the tools to rise above their challenges so that they can flourish. This is important not only to take our economy forward but also to address the legacy of apartheid which if left unattended may undermine our nation building efforts in the long run. Our approach is we are ready to assist youth that is looking for a hand-up not a hand-out.

Through our work we must encourage young people to seize every opportunity available and become the best they can be. In doing so, we give them the confidence and the necessary skills to succeed.

In conclusion,

We all have a national responsibility to ensure that young people are better equipped to become active economic and social participants in our country. If we are to build the country of our collective dreams every sector of society has a role to play. In this regard the business sector can and must do more to unlock the inherent potential that lies within our nation.

I invite you to join us on this journey; together we can break the chains of the past and create a vibrant youthful future. Together we can build a society without limits and move South Africa forward.

I thank you.

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