COM­MENT

Oh, the shiny road to hell...

Sunday World - - Sunday Forum -

UN­EM­PLOY­MENT re­mains high in South Africa and is one of the most press­ing chal­lenges fac­ing our gov­ern­ment.

The global eco­nomic cri­sis has wors­ened the sit­u­a­tion, with mil­lions los­ing their jobs in South Africa.

Des­per­ate, un­em­ployed South Africans have be­come hope­less.

Ahead of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s State of the Na­tion ad­dress this week, they were end­lessly talk­ing about gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to cre­ate jobs as the main weak­ness of suc­ces­sive post-apartheid regimes.

Zuma has re­peat­edly blamed the global eco­nomic down­turn as the main rea­son for his gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to cre­ate the jobs he had promised.

But on Thurs­day, in his ad­dress to the na­tion, Zuma un­veiled a mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture plan worth bil­lions for the next five years.

This plan will grow the econ­omy not only in South Africa but through­out the con­ti­nent, he said.

It will also cre­ate much needed jobs and re­duce in­equal­ity, poverty and crime, he said.

The prob­lem is that gov­ern­ment keeps mak­ing prom­ises that are never kept.

Prom­ises are like ba­bies: easy to make and hard to de­liver.

This gov­ern­ment and var­i­ous ANC elec­tion man­i­festos have promised jobs, in par­tic­u­lar through what was called the Ex­tended Public Works Pro­gramme.

That never ma­te­ri­alised, as ev­i­denced by Zuma’s speech, in which he hardly men­tioned the pro­gramme that was once used as a prom­ise for job cre­ation.

Zuma’s long term projects will not solve his gov­ern­ment’s prob­lems right away.

Zuma needs to give the na­tion much more sub­stance and more im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions to ad­dress un­em­ploy­ment.

To merely an­nounce job cre­ation projects with no time frame does not in­spire con­fi­dence.

Gov­ern­ment ap­pears to al­ways have good plans and in­ten­tions. But they are good only on pa­per and seem dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment be­cause of cor­rup­tion, among other things. Gov­ern­ment has to be­gin to do things dif­fer­ently.

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