‘Jobs an emer­gency case’

Econ­omy ex­perts call on newly elected ANC pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to sus­pend em­ploy­ment dis­in­cen­tives

The New Age (Gauteng) - - BUSINESS - BERNARD SATHEKGE bernards@the­newage.co.za

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.

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