Economy needs a big push
South Africa’s economy needs a major push forward, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
The country’s aim of achieving a growth target of five percent in 2019 was at risk, he warned in his state-of-the-nation address, delivered before a joint sitting of Parliament’s two chambers.
Zuma noted that the International Monetary Fund had this week revised down its global economic growth forecast to 3.5 percent for 2015.
“Our ambition of achieving a growth target of five percent by 2019 is at risk because of the slow global growth, as well as domestic constraints in energy, skills, transport and logistics amongst others.”
However, the situation was more promising on the jobs front.
“Two days ago, StatsSA released the employment figures for the last quarter of 2014. [They show] that there are now 15.3 million people who are employed in South Africa. Jobs grew by 203,000.”
On his target of six million job opportunities over five years, announced last year, he said so far 850,000 “work opportunities” had been created.
Zuma said government had a nine-point plan to “ignite growth and create jobs”.
This included, among other things, resolving the country’s energy challenge, revitalising agriculture, advancing the beneficiation of minerals and encouraging private sector investment.
“Our economy needs a major push forward,” he said.
Zuma speaks out on foreign land owners
Foreigners will not be allowed to own land in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said during his state-of-the-nation address to Parliament on Thursday.
He said they would instead be eligible for long-term leases.
“In this regard, the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill will be submitted to Parliament this year,” he said to applause in the National Assembly.
Land had become a critical factor in achieving redress for the wrongs of the past.
The second window for lodging land claims was reopened last year.
Zuma said more then 36,000 land claims had been lodged nationally. The cut-off date was 2019.
“We are also exploring the fifty/fifty policy framework, which proposes relative rights for people who live and work on farms.
“Fifty farming enterprises will be identified as a pilot project.”
In terms of new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership would be set at a maximum of 12,000 hectares.
Through the land reform programme, more than 90,000 hectares had been allocated to smallholder farmers, farm dwellers and labour tenants.
“The process of establishing the office of the valuer-general is underway, which is established in terms of the Property Valuation Act,” Zuma said.
“Once implemented the law will stop the reliance on the willing-buyer, willing-seller method in respect of land acquisition by the state.”
Eskom to get R23 billion
Stabilising Eskom’s finances is a priority and the power utility will be given R23 billion to do so, President Jacob Zuma announced on Thursday.
“The government will honour its commitment to give it around R23 billion in the next fiscal year,” he said in his state-of-the-nation address to Parliament.
He acknowledged South Africa was experiencing serious energy constraints.
“[These] are an impediment to economic growth, and are a major inconvenience to everyone in the country.”
Overcoming the problem was uppermost in government’s priorities.
“We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge.”
Cabinet was working “round the clock” with Eskom to stabilise the electricity supply system and contain load shedding.
25 years since Mandela’s release
The country is celebrating 25 years since former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the unbanning of liberation movements, President Jacob Zuma said during his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday.
“The release of Madiba marked a giant leap in the long walk to freedom for the people of South Africa as a whole and dealt a fatal blow to apartheid colonialism,” he told a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
“We continue to be inspired by Madiba and draw lessons from his legacy as we build our country.”
Zuma started where he had left off when he was interrupted earlier by the Economic Freedom Fighters.
“Let me start where I was interrupted from,” he said chuckling.