President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged academics to help the government overcome some of the challenges facing the country.

He was speaking at the 25 Years of Democracy Conference underway at the University of Johannesburg.

“We want to work with you, and for you to challenge us, to bring added rigour to the work of government. We look to you to continue to be a voice of both sensibility and conscience in our national life.”

Ramaphosa highlighted the progress that has been made in providing basic services to people since 1994. “The substantial investment we have made in economic and social infrastructure, in providing houses, water and electricity, in expanding access to education and health care has undoubtedly improved people’s lives.”

He however noted that more still needs to be done. “Thus, despite significant economic progress in the years leading up to the global financial crisis, unemployment has increased over the last decade, poverty levels have begun to rise again, and millions of South Africans remain excluded through a lack of assets, skills and networks.”

Ramaphosa has called on all social partners to help in ensuring youth employment.  “The Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan introduced last year, our investment drive, the measures agreed by the Jobs Summit and an ambitious plan to increase youth unemployment are all essential components of a comprehensive programme for economic recovery.  To be successful, this programme needs to be embraced and pursued by all social partners.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Sithemebele Mbete from the University of Pretoria said the country needs a multifaceted approach to overcome poverty.

Mbete expressed that having everyone employed is not the solution to end poverty.