Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SA News Update: DP Says Skills Shortage Massive; Zuma Refuses to Condemn Mugabe in UK; Joint ANC-LP Statement

SA skills shortage massive, says Mlambo-Ngcuka

Cape Town, South Africa
23 April 2008 04:15

South Africa's skills problem remains massive, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Wednesday.

"The scale of the problem has become bigger in the interim. There's a need for us to up our game," she told a media briefing on the 2007 report of the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa).

Vacancies in the public sector are also still unacceptably high.

Further, public schools and university throughputs are still too low, the quality and availability of trainers are a major constraint and rural communities have inadequate access to education and skills opportunities.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the global situation has changed since Jipsa's launch two years ago and the initiative has to be "upscaled".

Urgent attention also has to be given to foreign skills recruitment, because the country does not have the luxury of time for all the necessary training.

However, significant inroads have been made into increasing the number of artisans in training, and current training levels are higher than originally expected.

It is hoped the Jipsa programme will train 50 000 artisans by 2010.

According to the report, the 2007/08 service levels agreements (SLAs) signed between the various sector education and training authorities (Setas) and the Labour Department reflect a total of 18 879 artisans to be registered.

Provisional Seta SLAs indicate an additional 20 000 will be registered for 2008/09.

The National Skills Fund (NSF) has allocated a further R300-million for training 7 350 more artisans.

Among other things, the safety and security sector has also started a pilot project to determine the capacity of defence, police and correctional services to train and assess artisans.

Regarding engineers, the report says the Education Department's enrolment planning forecasts that total engineering graduations will rise by 500 a year to about 2 000 a year by 2010.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said children have to be stopped from dropping out of school before reaching matric. "[They] must go back to school because they are swelling the ranks of the unemployed."

She said an agreement has been reached with the retail sector to help find work for those matriculants who do not want to go to university.

The Cabinet established Jipsa in 2006 to support the government's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa).

Asgisa's goals are to reduce unemployment from 30% to 15% by 2014 and reduce poverty from one-third to one-sixth of the population by 2014. It is also aimed at increasing GDP growth rate from an average of 3% to 4,5% a year between 2005 and 2009 to 6% a year for the period 2010 to 2014.

Alan Hirsch, head of the economic sector in the Presidency, said there is no reason to believe these targets will not be met.

AngloGold Ashanti's Bobby Godsell, a member of Jipsa's task team, was also optimistic about Africa's prospects in the current global economic climate, saying: "A large part of the developed world is heading for recession ... in the next five to 10 years, real growth will happen in emerging markets. Africa has never been more positively received."

Having recently returned from a trip to the United States, he said he had never seen a sentiment "as positive" towards Africa and predicted that engineers who had emigrated would start returning.

South Africa has a sound financial services sector, it is less indebted than many rich parts of the world and has a healthier set of economic fundamentals.

"That's what's going to start bringing people back," he said. -- Sapa

Zuma blames electoral body, not Mugabe

London, United Kingdom
23 April 2008 04:00

African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma on Wednesday refused to condemn Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe over the ongoing failure to publish presidential election results and widespread post-election violence.

Ahead of talks in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Zuma also rejected claims that South African President Thabo Mbeki had failed to press Mugabe on these issues.

Zuma said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission -- and not Mugabe -- was to blame for the delay in publication of last month's results.

"I am not certain whether I should stand there and really condemn people and make myself a judge," Zuma told BBC radio, referring to Mugabe.

Brown is a fierce critic of Mugabe and has urged African leaders to withdraw recognition of his regime until the March 29 presidential vote's results are released.

South Africa's leadership has been criticised over its perceived soft stance toward Mugabe.

"Mbeki is a mediator," Zuma said. "You cannot have a mediator who takes sides, who stands and criticises people he is trying to mediate."

Legislative election results that gave the opposition a majority in Zimbabwe's Parliament for the first time also are in limbo, with a partial recount under way.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims post-election violence has displaced 3 000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead. There is no way to verify the claims because of reporting restrictions in Zimbabwe.

But Zuma, on a tour of Europe with an ANC delegation, insisted that South Africa is taking action.

"We are doing something more than anyone else," he said. "What else must we do? We must send the army? We do more than other countries do." -- Sapa-AP


23 April 2008

As leaders of the Labour Party and the African National Congress (ANC) we reaffirmed our strong historical relationship. We explored the ties between the two parties, particularly further developing links between young people in the progressive movement globally.

We discussed major challenges facing the world and agreed progressive parties should work together to overcome them. In particular we agreed on the importance of education and the Millennium Development Goals and the need to work together to build a global effort to get the world back on track.

We recognised the challenges posed by the food crisis for millions of poor people and agreed on the need for coordinated global action.

We resolved on the crisis in Zimbabwe to redouble our efforts to secure early publication of election results. We call for an end to any violence and intimidation and stressed the importance of respect for the sovereign people of Zimbabwe and the choice they have made at the ballot box.

We agreed on the importance of humanitarian aid and the need for international cooperation to support the recovery of the economy of Zimbabwe once all election processes have been fulfilled.

Issued by:
Jacob Zuma, President of the African National Congress
The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, Leader of the Labour Party

23 April 2008

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