Youth employment was on top of Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela’s first State of the Province Address (Sopa) since her appointed as head of provincial government earlier this year. Ntombela declared in Bloemfontein today that more effort would be put into producing learners who can employ themselves without government intervention.
“We have to give our children an education that they will be able to use in such a way that they will not need to depend on government,” said Ntombela. In her address the premier expressed that the creation of jobs for the benefit of Free State residents is a non-negotiable matter. Presently, the province’s youth unemployment is over 30%.
“Our ability to set the Free State on a bold development path is based on our ability to grow our economy. Currently, our economy is fragile and unstable. Its performance is yet to inspire the level and kind of confidence we desire. The low growth rate of 0.9% in 2019, minimal investment and the complex trade imbalance have hampered our ability to grow the economy,” said Ntombela.
However, Free State DA leader, Roy Jankielsohn, expressed that job creation would not be possible without investment and the collapse of local municipalities mean little opportunity for that. “To deal with unemployment in the Free State we need huge investment and investment takes place in municipalities. Municipalities create an enabling environment for investment and creation of jobs but they are under financial distress,” he said.
Provincial Secretary of the Free State EFF, Bosanku Msimanga, described the premier’s plans for employment as wishy-washy. “Job creation based on tenders has failed. This model of employment has been used since 1994 until now, and the results are the same. Moving forward I do not see a change because there is nothing new to what Ace Magashule was doing,” he said.
Ntombela committed to prioritising agro-processing, digital and environmentally conscious industries as well as retail and services industries among others to boost dwindling economic growth during this year.