President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday defended the public employment drive incorporated in an economic recovery plan unveiled last week, saying it provided a respite for families who have endured a long, hard winter with greatly reduced income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said through the public investment of R100 billion over the next three years, the government was undertaking a far-reaching and ambitious investment in human capital, with the state as both a creator and an enabler of jobs.
The plan comes a couple of weeks after data from Statistics South Africa showed the continent’s most industrialised economy shed 2.2 million jobs in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first, feeling the pain of a nationwide lockdown imposed from March 27 to try to slow down Covid-19 transmissions.
“We will protect and create directly-funded jobs and livelihood support interventions while the labour market recovers from the coronavirus pandemic,” Ramaphosa said in his newsletter.
Last week Business Leadership South Africa, an association of some of the country’s biggest businesses, said the job creation measures in the economic recovery plan could only provide temporary relief, stressing that only through policies that stimulated employment in the private sector could the country create quality, sustainable jobs.
On Monday, Ramaphosa said like other public employment programmes across the world, his government’s stimulus supported and complemented the critical role of the private sector in generating jobs.
“The employment stimulus is not about vague commitments for some time in the future, but about jobs being created right here and now,” he added.
“It is counter-cyclical, in that as the recovery advances, the scale of public employment will decline.”