The Limpopo government is worried that the declining platinum demand will push unemployment higher and frustrate the province’s ambitions to create more jobs.
Government believes that the mining and agriculture industries are under pressure to retain labour absorption, firstly with the decline in commodity demand and, secondly, with the persistent drought. However, Premier Stan Mathabatha on Friday, during his State of the Province Address, said that manufacturing is offering some hope.
The South African Women Investment Holdings, Jidong Development Group and China Africa Development Fund joint venture is unlocking job opportunities, said Mathabatha.
Mathabatha said the R1.65 billion investment in Mamba Cement Manufacturing Company in Thabazimbi is progressing well.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce that the construction of the plant is now complete. It created 231 permanent jobs and 550 temporary jobs,” said Mathabatha.
The project has been commissioned, with the final 30-day plant test due in March this year.
“Fifty South Africans will be trained in China on how to operate this type of plant. They will be sent in groups once the commissioning of the plant is completed.”
Mathabatha said, while Limpopo’s jobless rate is much better than the national average of 25 percent, the rate of unemployment in our province remains “unacceptably” high at 18.9 percent.
According to Mathabatha, although the province is struggling, it managed to create 147 000 jobs in 2015, a number confirmed by Statistics SA Labour Force.
He also said that the province’s economic growth forecasts had been blocked as a result of the hostile global economic climate, which also prompted the Reserve Bank to adjust economic growth to 1.6 percent in 2017.
Mathabatha stressed that Limpopo is affected, as it is the foremost supplier of platinum, a mineral for which global appetites have declined, pushing mining companies to cut jobs.
Mathabatha said government, the service and trade sectors, which include tourism, remain the biggest employers in the province. “Despite the economic challenges,
this sector has recorded steady growth and managed to employ more people.”
Mathabatha said the current drought conditions had had unpleasant consequences for the provincial economy, reducing economic growth opportunities.
However, he said his government is working with farmers to ensure that the agricultural sector finds its footing again. “We have also reduced the dependency index from eight in 2006 to six in 2014. This means that in our province, for every one person employed, there are, on average, six people who depend on the income of that person.
Although this drop in dependency signifies progress, it is still unacceptably high and we must therefore work much harder to reduce it to at least three. This will significantly improve household income.”