UPDATE 2-Zuma says S.Africa on the mend but needs more jobs

* Economy recovering well, but jobs being lost

* A million jobs lost since start of 2009

* Welcomes call for jobs intervention

* Says happy with first year’s performance

(Adds comments from TV interview)

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN, May 12 (BestGrowthStock) – South Africa’s economy is
recovering well from last year’s recession but the government
needs to do more to create jobs, President Jacob Zuma said on
Wednesday.

In a speech to parliament a year into his presidency, Zuma
also assured lawmakers that all was ready for a successful and
safe soccer World Cup, starting next month.

“All indications are that we are recovering from the
recession, our economy is growing and investors are showing
confidence in our country,” he said.

Africa’s biggest economy returned to growth in the third
quarter of 2009 after the first recession in 17 years, but while
factory output is gathering pace, jobs are still being lost.

About a million jobs have been shed since the start of 2009
and data last week showed the official unemployment rate rose to
25.2 percent.

Zuma said the government’s response to the global crisis and
domestic downturn, including public works programmes, had helped
to limit the damage to the economy, but stressed that the world
economy remained weak, evident in the euro zone debt problems.

The recently unveiled industrial plan would target certain
sectors to ensure jobs are retained and new ones created, while
an expanded public works programme and investment in education
would help to boost skills.

Zuma welcomed a joint statement from the country’s main
labour federations and some manufacturers calling for policy
intervention to boost employment, though, in a later interview
on public broadcaster SABC, he dismissed calls for wholesale
change to policy.

“Of course people have the right to say let’s change
everything (but) is that the solution?”.

The group of trade unions and manufacturers appealed to the
government on Monday for measures to help boost growth,
including pegging the rand at a weaker level, after blaming its
relative strength for stifling exports. [ID:nLDE64A2EE]

“We applaud the pro-activeness of labour and business in
working to take forward this joint mission of creating decent
work,” Zuma said in his speech, without commenting on the call
for a weaker currency.

The government and central bank have acknowledged the rand
may be too strong — it strengthened nearly 30 percent against
the dollar last year — but have resisted intervening to set its
level.

Zuma — a regionally-appointed mediator to resolve
difference in Zimbabwe’s fragile power-sharing government —
also said that country’s political parties had formed a team
that will appeal to the international community to remove
sanctions.

The United States and Europe have targeted President Robert
Mugabe and his inner circle for sanctions. They blame Mugabe and
his close allies for human rights abuses.

Zuma said he was happy with the first year’s performance of
his administration. “I am satisfied. I think I have done what I
could…we are ready and this coming year we are going to be
moving forward,” he said.

Investment Advice
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf, writing by Gordon Bell)

UPDATE 2-Zuma says S.Africa on the mend but needs more jobs