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DA petitions Zuma on youth jobs

May 31 2010 17:43

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Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has written to President Jacob Zuma urging him to resolve the tussle between centrists and leftists in the Cabinet bedevilling the implementation of a youth wage subsidy policy.

The opposition party said on Monday pressure from Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and trade union federation, Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), appeared to have pushed Zuma to downgrade a policy to (a) debate.

Answering questions in the National Assembly last week, Zuma indicated that there was room for further discussion on the subsidy, announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his budget as the headline policy for tackling the country's youth unemployment crisis.

DA MP Tim Harris termed the shift "alarming".

"After six weeks of loud and poorly reasoned opposition to the youth wage subsidy, it appears as if Patel is championing Cosatu's efforts to block the wage subsidy proposal."

Harris said that this seemed to have swayed Zuma was indicative of the left's hold on the president and boded poorly for a realistic response to labour market problems and unemployment.

"Unfortunately, Cosatu's public support for Jacob Zuma's run at the presidency has entrenched its leaders in the Cabinet, weakened the president's resolve and lessened the likelihood of fundamental reform."

4 000 jobs a week

The DA said the youth wage subsidy would enable the state to take on some of the costs of hiring workers, and bring relief for the three million South Africans under the age of 34 who were unemployed in the first quarter of the year.

Gordhan estimated that the subsidy would help to create half a million jobs by 2013.

The DA argued that by delaying implementation of the policy, the government was therefore passing up on the opportunity to create some 4 000 jobs per week.

"The opportunity cost of inaction is around 17 000 new jobs per month. Put another way, every week that passes without Mr Zuma intervening to break the Cabinet deadlock costs us around 4 000 jobs."

tim harris  |  labour  |  legislation
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