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A speech is easier to deliver than economic growth

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-10 02:36:02.0

The Times Editorial: President Jacob Zuma spent, as expected, a significant portion of last night's State of the Nation address on unemployment and economic growth.

In last year's speech, he hailed 2011 as the year of job creation and offered broad brush-strokes for the reduction of the unemployment of millions of South Africans, particularly young people.

Last night he was careful to point to the historical legacy of unemployment, particularly among those who are young and African, saying: "When freedom was attained in 1994, South Africa inherited a problem of structural unemployment that goes back to the 1970s."

Reiterating last year's commitment to stimulate job creation, Zuma neglected to mention what concrete steps his government would take to provide a workforce that is skilled for a challenging and evolving world.

This, in the end, will remain South Africa's curse - a vast number of young people who are not educationally equipped to enter the job market.

Then there is the infrastructure development that Zuma announced to stimulate economic growth across the country, including rail and port expansion.

He refrained from placing emphasis on other issues that have hindered growth, such as corruption, and, most important, the ability of the government to deliver.

This, ultimately, is what has led to Limpopo's effectively being placed under national administration. In a very short space of time Pravin Gordhan's Treasury has managed to unearth vast graft and tender manipulation in the province.

Unfortunately, like last year, Zuma's promises can be fulfilled only by his government's delivery - whether it be steady economic growth or numerical evidence that jobs have been created.

The question remains whether he is capable of delivering while his government juggles myriad economic growth plans and is hampered in its capacity to deliver services.

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