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CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says South Africa must speed up transformation.
The president moved to reassure business leaders ahead of his the state of the nation address on Thursday.
He addressed captains of industry as well as government heavyweights at an investor lunch. He reiterated that the economy must be restructured to include previously disadvantaged groups.
"The most important challenge we need to confront head on this year is the scale of exclusion and inequality in this country."
"It needs urgent action. After two decades of democracy, the black majority still remain outside of the mainstream economy."
"Social justice cannot be achieved if we allow the status quo to persist," Zuma insisted.
Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa were expected to sign a minimum wage agreement of R20 per hour with labour and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
However, the signing was postponed due to a request from trade union Cosatu for further consultation from the central executive committee.
Alongside this, Zuma again acknowledged that the country’s economy is not growing fast enough to mitigate the the unemployment challenge.
“Unemployment currently stands at 27.1%. This is the highest rate since June 2004. Our youth unemployment stands at 44% for 18 to 29-year-olds."
In SA, like the rest of the world, the largest employers of unskilled works are shrinking in importance. This puts more works in the job market being not only unemployed, but also largely difficult to employ due to lack of skills ”.
The president called on the provate sector to help reduce unemployment levels.