South Africa’s private sector must change faster to give blacks a larger stake in business, President Jacob Zuma has recently told a rally, urging the ruling party to help create more jobs in a local government election year.
Since coming to power in 1994 at the end of white minority rule, the ruling African National Congress party has changed the complexion of the civil service, the military and state-owned companies, helping many who were excluded from the mainstream economy under apartheid to create a solid black middle class.
“Sadly the private sector lags behind … Many boardrooms and many top management positions remain white-male dominated. This must change,” Zuma told about 40,000 cheering supporters at a stadium in the town of Rustenburg in the North West province in a speech to mark the 104-birthday of the ANC.
“The country needs a private sector that acts in the national interest and which contributes to the attainment of the national goals of eradicating poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
With local elections expected mid this year at a date yet to be announced, Zuma also used the rally to woo young voters, most of whom are not automatically joining the ANC, according to surveys, compared to older voters who still feel grateful to the party for winning their freedom from apartheid.
Zuma supporters said a lack of jobs was a big concern.
“We still have a high unemployment rate, especially among the youth. Not enough is being done to employ them,” Linda Mathonsi, 46, a school teacher at the rally said.
The ANC is under pressure in the local polls, especially in the province of Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, raising the possibility it could lose control of either or both the commercial capital Johannesburg or Pretoria in this year’s elections.
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