7 June 2012

South Africa: Youth Subsidy Should Complement Industry - Shabangu

Photo: Werner Beukes/Sapa
A police officer tries to control a tense situation between an angry Cosatu crowd and Democratic Alliance supporters in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The implementation of a youth wage subsidy would not have a negative impact on the mining sector, but should complement it, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"We need to create a base [from] where young people can acquire skills," Shabangu told reporters at a mining lekgotla.

There was no intention for the subsidy to replace existing workers or to create cheap labour within the mineral resources sector.

It was important for the government and labour to find consensus on the subsidy, Shabangu said.

She said the lekgotla was taking place at an appropriate time, with the African National Congress's policy conference approaching, as outcomes from the lekgotla would be carried forward for discussion at the conference.

"The intention is for their voice [the mining industry] to be heard," said Shabangu.

'We need skills development'

Mining companies operating in South Africa should contribute to skills and economic development within the country, a policy referred to as beneficiation, she said.

"We are aware we are adopting a policy of beneficiation in the country. This is a process. Not an event... we need skills and skills development."

Shabangu said the local jewellery industry was a sector which should grow, especially with the resources required available in South Africa.

"As this department, we will sponsor a summit for the jewellery industry."

In a speech earlier on Wednesday, Shabangu emphasised the importance of consistent and stable policy making.

"Whole swathes of the world are far too unstable these days for us even to contemplate indulging in disruptive activities here at the foot of Africa."

South Africa had achieved stability and freedom since 1994 and it was imperative that this be built upon.

"South Africa missed the last commodity boom and cannot afford to miss the next one," she told delegates.

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