May 11 2010 14:51 Sikonathi Mantshantsha & Sapa Print this article | Email article
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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday raised the possibility of further job losses as a result of the global economic recession and sovereign debt problems hitting some countries.
"Even though in South Africa we have lost about a million jobs due to the economic recession, there is still a possibility more may be lost," said Zuma, speaking at the annual general meeting of Business Unity South Africa (Busa). "The impact of the global recession may still lead to more job losses."
Zuma was speaking following the election of Futhi Mtoba as new Busa president. Mtoba beat close Zuma ally Sandile Zungu by 18 votes to 12, to replace former Public Investment Corporation CEO Brian Molefe as president.
Zuma said government is trying to work with business to mitigate the effects of the slump.
"To that end, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has set aside R6.1bn to help struggling companies to avoid job losses," said Zuma. He said R1.1bn of the amount has been approved for disbursements. He urged more businesses to approach the IDC and make use of the funds, saying they must do all they can to avoid laying off workers.
Zuma, whose administration had its first anniversary last Sunday, said: "It has been a hectic but a very fulfilling and successful year for all of us.
"We have been working hard to introduce new ways of doing things and to change the way government works to improve service delivery."
Zuma said that following his attendance of the World Economic Forum in Dar es Salaam, he had returned "encouraged about Africa's prospects".
He had learnt at the meeting that Africa had come through the global economic crisis "much more smoothly" than anticipated.
"In the past when the US or Europe sneezed, Africa caught a cold. This time we found that Africa was immunised," he said. Many African countries did not go into recession, although their growth rates had weakened for a while.
"Economists believe that one of the main factors immunising Africa is the sound macroeconomic policies that have been followed in many African countries for some years now," Zuma said.
He had no doubt one of the main reasons for the better economic policies was that most African governments had become more accountable to their citizens.
"Democracy and accountability seem to go along with better economic policies. This is good news for Africa," Zuma said.