Pretoria– South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has announced the introduction of a stimulus package to curb unemployment and create jobs following the conclusion of the party’s two-day National Executive Committee (NEC) Lekgotla (meeting) here Tuesday.

The announced, which was made by President Cyrile Ramaphosa, in his capapcity as ANC president, follows the release of the latest unemployment figures, which show that unemployment in the country has risen to 27.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2018 from 26.7 per cent in the first quarter.

A number of burning issues were discussed at the bi-annual meeting, including the current state of the economy, jobs and land reform. The meeting took place at a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high.

The ANC president was quick to allay fears. He announced the introduction of a stimulus package, which aims to curb unemployment. It also aims to increase support for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as to create job opportunities for youth and women.

Ramaphosa says the initiative would target youth and women in townships and rural communities.

The ANC’s Head of Economic Transformation, Enoch Godongwana, announced protection measures to cushion certain sectors from import surges in order to protect jobs.

Another burning issue which has attracted major public interest in recent months is whether Section 25 of the country’s Constitution should be amended to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. Public hearings hosted by the Joint Constitutional Review Committee have been held in eight provinces so far.

The ANC says a comprehensive land reform programme will unlock economic growth. NEC member Ronald Lamola stresses that the programme does not involve nationalization.