Zuma warns SA may still lose more jobs

December 3, 2009

, PRETORIA, Dec 3 – South Africa may still lose more jobs even though the economy began growing again in the last quarter, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday, with hundreds of thousands out of work this year.

"Although the economy is beginning to grow again, the crisis is still with us, especially for the poor and the working poor," he said after meeting with his economic crisis team.

"We may still lose more jobs before we turn the corner on job creation. Nearly a million people have been cut loose by the crisis, and many of them have families that depend on them," he added.

South Africa\’s economy staged a sharp turnaround in the third quarter, growing by 0.9 percent — the first growth after a nine-month recession.

The recession marked an end to a remarkable 17 years of steady growth and was the first downturn since the end of apartheid.

All those years of growth, however, failed to make a serious dent in unemployment, which was at 24.5 percent in the third quarter, exacerbating poverty in a country that already has one of the world\’s biggest gaps between rich and poor.

When Zuma took office, he had pledged to create 500,000 jobs. He said government\’s 787 billion rand (107 billion dollars, 71 billion euros) infrastructure programme unveiled in February had generated nearly half that number of jobs in direct employment.

"Without these measures, the impact of the recession would have been more severe," Zuma said. "These measures also form the basis for a better future, once the pressures of the current economic conditions are lessened."

Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost this year. The nation had 770,000 fewer jobs in the third quarter compared to the same period last year.

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