What waste looks like: Hustling for a living

2013-11-24 14:00

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Steven Mndawe has not been able to get a full-time job since he finished high school 13 years ago.

The 32-year-old man hustled to get an agriculture economics diploma through Unisa 10 years ago after finishing Grade 12, but that qualification has not helped him find a job either.

During all these years, Mndawe of Matsulu township, 30km outside Nelspruit, estimates that he could have sent in more than 200 job applications to government departments hoping to land a job – even for a chance to be trained as a traffic cop.

“Because of nepotism and cadre deployment, I didn’t stand a chance. We know that whenever government jobs are advertised, there’s already a list of preselected candidates who are politically connected. It’s a mere formality to advertise posts,” Mndawe said. So, the father of two children, aged three and two, gave up applying two years ago.

“That oomph to apply for jobs I’ve had since 2000 when I finished matric fizzled out after obtaining a diploma and realising that I still couldn’t get employed,” Mndawe said.

So he decided to try to start his own business importing and selling medical equipment, but the department of trade and industry declined his loan application because he had no collateral of his own.

“That money spent on Nkandla could have helped many people like us. You can imagine how many people it could have helped to finance their studies.

“Nkandla was a waste and it is painful to struggling individuals like us to realise how that money was spent on one person,” he said.

Mndawe is not alone. Many young people simply don’t get the chance to gain any work experience, so Treasury has introduced the Employment Incentive Tax Bill.

The bill, if passed, will give employers a tax break if they employ young people aged between 18 and 29, and give them on-the-job training to increase their chances of getting a permanent job.

Statistics show that about 94% of unemployed young people don’t have any tertiary qualifications and about 80% of those have never worked, or were employed for no longer than a year.

Treasury spokesperson Phumza Macanda said the potential cost of future forgone tax revenue for government could be between R1 billion and R2?billion for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years – far less than the R30?billion the Auditor-General said was misspent last year.

While looking for a job, Mndawe has kept himself busy with short-term NGO work in HIV/Aids awareness and environmental projects.

He has also tried his hand in business, running a tavern in Pienaar in 2004, but it didn’t last a year because of theft.

Since 2007, Mndawe has been working part time, scouting for clients for a Joburg medical-supplies company.

“It usually takes three to four months to find a client.

“It’s better than nothing,” he says.

Waste not, want not

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