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Aug 11, 2008

Emulating Mexico could slash unemployment – Tony Leon

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South Africa should emulate comparable countries like Mexico and Thailand in order to slash unemployment, South Africa’s former Opposition Leader Tony Leon MP said on Monday.

Leon told an audience at GIBS university in Johannesburg that, if South Africa followed the example of other developing countries like these, it could create an additional 6,5-million jobs.

He said that in many ways South Africa’s “rainbow” period after the country’s democratisation in 1994 had done the country as much harm as it had done it good, because “dogs who should have barked in at night at the critical moments were quiet”.

He said ANC president Jacob Zuma would not get the “free pass” that “failed president” Thabo Mbeki had been given.

“Things will be held up to scrutiny,” he said.

There was more recognition of crises in South Africa now than there had been in the past.

“I could tell you many things that are wrong with Jacob Zuma, but at least you know them already,” Leon said.

Presidents did not need deference, but they needed defiance.

He said South Africa’s Constitution, which was meant to be a mighty oak, had become a bonsai tree.

Economically South Africa should not emulate a United Kingdom or a China, but rather emulate a Mexico or a Thailand and create 6,5-million more jobs.

“High skills and low skills are complementary, like coffee and sugar,” he said and constraints on high-skilled jobs should be lifted in order to create demand for low skilled jobs.

Education was now worse in South Africa than it was 15 years ago and said that former apartheid president FW De Klerk was claiming that he had a greater black mathematics and science matriculant passes than the Mbeki government.

South Africa had become obsessed with “racial bean counting” in its black economic empowerment.

Edited by: Martin Creamer
Creamer Media Editor
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