Newly appointed Employment and Labour Minister, Nomakhosazana Meth, says the department is facing a mammoth task of ensuring that it continues in earnest to usher in, not only hope to citizens, but substantive positive change in their lives.

Meth was speaking during a Ministerial Committee meeting to welcome new principals and to present to them the department’s programme.

Together with Deputy Ministers Phumzile Mgcina and Jomo Sibiya, Meth held a meeting with the Executive Committee, including the department’s Acting Director-General, Onke Mjo, and the department’s Deputy Director-Generals.

Monday’s meeting was also attended by heads of the Compensation Fund (CF) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), as well as heads of entities, such as Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE), Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Productivity SA, and National Economic and Labour Council (Nedlac).

In her address, Meth said South Africa is still struggling with the stubborn triple challenges of po
verty, unemployment, and inequality.

She said the scourge of unemployment remains a huge hurdle that the country is facing, with the official unemployment rate currently standing at 32.9% while the expanded unemployment rate is at 41.9%, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for Quarter 1 of 2024.

‘The picture becomes dire when it comes to the youth unemployment rate with youth aged 15 – 24 years standing at 59.7% and youth aged 25 – 34 years standing at 40.7%. These statistics should remind us that the stakes are still high, and we must hasten to strengthen the implementation of interventions to dent the unemployment rate.’

Meth maintained that substantive results can be achieved through an intensive and collaborative mechanism, ‘that will propel all of us to realise the department’s objectives”.

Priorities

She said in carrying forth its mandate, the department will be guided by a set of six priorities for the seventh administration, and these are:

Priority 1: Put South Africa to work.

Priority 2: Build our industries for an inclusive economy.

Priority 3: Tackle the prohibitive cost of living.

Priority 4: Invest in people.

Priority 5: Defend democracy and advance freedom.

Priority 6: Better Africa and the World.

‘These priorities must find expression in the work of the Department of Employment and Labour family.

‘The priority is to create and sustain 2.5 million work opportunities delivering public goods and services in communities; implement a cross-cutting industrial strategy that drives growth and creates opportunity for youth and other unemployed people; tackle the war on poverty by providing comprehensive social security and basic services through the Unemployment Insurance Fund and Compensation Fund; and continue enforcement of compliance with the National Minimum Wage across all applicable industries in South Africa,’ Meth said.

Through investing in people, the Minister emphasised that the department, as the custodian of employment law, has a responsibility to ensure work
places that are free of traumatic events and a deterioration in the quality of life of many workers; managing compliance with employment law and Immigration Act; and strengthen relations with stakeholders, internationally and at regional level.

‘Ours in the seventh administration is to ensure that we shift gears and embrace the principles brought about by the Government of National Unity (GNU). I require active and impactful participation in the District Development Model (DDM) as that will continue to expand our reach as the department,’ Meth said.

The DDM aims to improve the coherence and impact of government service delivery with a focus on 44 districts and eight metros around the country as development spaces that can be used as centres of service delivery and economic development, including job creation.

She also emphasised the department’s role at the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is a vehicle in building a better Africa and the world.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter