Johannesburg - The Eastern Cape’s economic development
minister, Mcebisi Jonas, has launched a R50m jobs fund that will grow to R150m
This means that the Eastern Cape is the first province to
roll out its own initiative under the banner of the R9bn jobs stimulus fund
managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
The fund aims to create 150 000 jobs nationally over the
next three years. The province aims to create 30 000 jobs over the same period.
The unemployment rate in the province rose to 26.9% in the
first quarter of this year from 24.7% in the fourth quarter of last year.
Jonas said the Eastern Cape's version of the jobs fund would
go a long way towards easing the pain of massive job losses.
“We can't fold our arms and not do anything about the job
losses. We need to lobby for regional incentives because we are losing jobs in
a manner we can't manage.”
Jonas said applicants would receive a response from the fund
within three to four weeks of the closing date for submissions.
The fund would pay a yearly amount of R10 000 for every job
The province lost nearly 40 000 jobs because of the
recession, while the South African economy shed 1 million jobs. The Eastern
Cape lost 16 000 jobs between the first and second quarter of this year.
Sitembele Mase, the chief executive of the Eastern Cape
Development Corporation, which will manage the Eastern Cape’s jobs fund, said
the development lender had implemented strict measures to ensure that the fund
was not looted by fraudsters.
“There are bound to be chance-takers who will try to take
advantage of the public funds.
We have put measures
in place to combat fraud,” said Mase, who is a former deputy director-general
of the Department of Trade and Industry.
He said the jobs fund was crucial for a province like the
Eastern Cape, which had a low labour-absorption capacity. He said the province
would ensure that its jobs fund was used to create sustainable jobs.
“Since 2009, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation has
disbursed more than R600m in loans, but we did not create sustainable jobs. We
need to ask ourselves if we are disbursing to viable and sustainable
There is a big percentage of our funding that goes to
tenderpreneurs, but they are not growing the economy. All they do is create
Mase said the Eastern Cape Development Corporation and rural
development agency AsgiSA Eastern Cape had applied for R500m funding from the
R9bn fund managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa to fund the
province's job-creation plan.
- City Press