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Ramaphosa unveils R100bn fund to create 800,000 public sector jobs

'Employment stimulus package' will be implemented immediately

15 October 2020 - 15:59 By thabo mokone
President Cyril Ramaphosa presented SA's economic recovery plan to parliament on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa presented SA's economic recovery plan to parliament on Thursday.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a R100bn fund to create 800,000 public sector jobs in the next three years.

Ramaphosa made the announcement during a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament on Thursday, where he tabled an “economic reconstruction and recovery plan” in response to the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the country's economy.

He presented the plan after it was adopted at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) following stakeholder consultation.

The seven-month-long Covid-19 lockdown has ravaged the economy, shutting down hundreds of thousands of businesses and pushing more than 2 million citizens into the ranks of unemployment.

Addressing the hybrid sitting of parliament, Ramaphosa said the government had resolved to be a key driver of new employment opportunities, arguing this has proven to be more effective in stimulating job creation during crises.

“Large-scale job interventions driven by the state and social partners have proven effective in many countries that have faced devastation from wars and other crises,” he said.

“We have committed R100bn over the next three years to create jobs through public and social employment as the labour market recovers,” he added.

Ramaphosa said the “employment stimulus package” would be implemented with  immediate effect.

But political parties were quick to slam the “employment stimulus” as inadequate, saying it was not enough to recover the two million jobs lost to Covid-19.

Ramaphosa said of the 800,000 job opportunities targeted, 300,000 would go to unemployed matriculants to be hired as assistants to public school teachers.

The aim was to relieve teachers of the added Covid-19 related responsibilities, such as ensuring classroom hygiene and daily health screening of pupils, with the teachers' assistant earning at least a minimum wage of R3,500 a month.

“We are going to create 300,000 opportunities for young people to be engaged as education and school assistants at schools throughout the country, to help teachers with basic and routine work so that more time is spent on teaching and enabling learners to catch up from time lost because of Covid,” said Ramaphosa.

“The employment stimulus is focused on those interventions that can be rolled out most quickly and have the greatest impact on economic recovery.

“At the heart of the employment stimulus is a new, innovative approach to public employment which harnesses the energies and capabilities of the wider society.”

The president said the R100bn fund would also be used to protect more than 40,000 vulnerable teaching posts at public schools which have lost income from fees as struggling parents can no longer afford to pay.

A further 60,000 jobs, Ramaphosa said, were expected to be created through labour-intensive projects such as maintenance and construction of municipal infrastructure and rural roads.

“To support our health-care system, an additional 6,000 community health workers and nursing assistants will be deployed as we proceed with the implementation of National Health Insurance.

“Public employment will be expanded at the provincial and city level, contributing to cleaner, greener and safer public spaces and improved maintenance of facilities.

“In all of these programmes, we will ensure that recruitment is fair, open and transparent, and that opportunities are advertised widely.

“To assist young people who are unemployed to access these and other opportunities, we will soon launch the national Pathway Management Network as a platform for recruitment and other forms of support.

“Finally, the employment stimulus includes direct support for livelihoods and the protection of jobs in vulnerable sectors.”