‘Jobs an emergency case’
Economy experts call on newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend employment disincentives
EXPERTS are urging newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to act fast on unemployment, even calling for a “state of emergency” to tackle the country’s 28% unemployment rate.
Ramaphosa heads the party at a time when it is weakened by internal strife, and business and consumer confidence is low with GDP growth for 2017 expected to be below 1%. To make matters worse, 500 000 new job seekers enter the labour market every year. The public purse is in tatters and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will present his first national budget in February with a gap of R50.8bn in tax receipts.
Independent consultant and economist Moses Kgora told The New Age it was vital for the country’s leadership to tackle unemployment, especially among the youth, and to curb the growing list of social grant recipients.
“The biggest challenge in Ramaphosa’s first month as he prepares himself for the presidency in 2019 is to get jobs for 9 million South Africans. He needs to act now or he will never get it right. About 30 million South Africans are already in poverty and we have to reduce this dramatically,” Kgora said.
He advised Ramaphosa to follow policies that favour businesses at all levels and to not to be distracted.
“It is true that Ramaphosa has to implement radical economic transformation (RET) as endorsed by the ruling party so his ‘new deal’ plan may not see the light of the day unless he uses it cleverly in line with RET,” Kgora said.
Leon Louw, executive director of the Free Market Foundation, said earlier this year that the catastrophic job situation should be treated as a state of emergency.
“During such a state of emergency every employment disincentive should be suspended. The unemployed should be free to be employed or self-employed on whatever terms they wish. A low wage is better than no wage for the unemployed and for everyone,” Louw said.
He said global unemployment averaged 6%, but SA was at 36.4%.
“That’s more than 9 million people with families. Unemployment in the worst province, Northern Cape, is at 44%, Limpopo at 37%, and North West is 40%. Most youths aged 2024 are unemployed and young women endure 55% unemployment,” he said.
He said most unemployed youths have never had a job and without a state of emergency, they may never be employed.
He stressed that victims of what he calls the government’s anti-employment policies are overwhelmingly black.
“A coalition of political parties can do something creative and radical. Talk of RET is silly and dangerous. It has nothing in it that is radical, economic or transformative,” he said.
Kgotso Mothobi, transformation agent and analyst, agreed that a state of emergency should be declared early in the year, saying it had to be led by Ramaphosa.
“If Ramaphosa can focus on good policies that will uplift the domestic economy in the next six months, he’ll have a winner, but if he is going to spend sleepless nights worrying about party factions, we will be doomed,” he said.
Mothobi said the country needed true transformation agents and innovative thinking.
He said Ramaphosa needed to blend his 10point “new deal” into an action plan for jobs, economic growth and transformation, incorporating ANC policy on radical economic transformation.
DESPERATE TIMES: Job seekers wait on the side of a road holding placards reading their specialisation.