DA launches youth wage subsidy campaign
Cape Town - If the National Treasury had implemented the youth wage policy subsidy on April 1 2010 it would have already benefited almost 200 000 young people and created more than 80 000 new jobs, the Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.
Nobody disputed that South Africa had a crisis of youth unemployment, DA MPs Tim Harris and Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement at the launch of the party's "youth wage subsidy now" campaign.
"The rate of joblessness in our country is among the highest in the world, and 71% of the unemployed are under the age of 34.
"We know that the youth wage subsidy policy is not a silver bullet for youth unemployment, but it does represent the best way to start lowering the cost of employing young people without affecting conditions of employment or wage levels," they said.
Cosatu opposition delayed document
The policy was first floated in October 2009 in the medium-term budget policy statement and formally announced by President Jacob Zuma on February 11 2010.
Opposition parties, analysts across the spectrum, and South Africa's second biggest trade union federation, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), all supported National Treasury's policy.
"But loud opposition from Cosatu [Congress of SA Trade Unions], on completely spurious grounds, delayed the discussion document by ten months.
"It now seems likely to delay implementation beyond the target date of April 1 2012 - and perhaps forever - as they use their veto power at Nedlac [National Economic Development and Labour Council], where the policy currently sits."
Treasury calculated that the subsidy would benefit 423 000 young job seekers over a three-year period at a cost of R5bn.
Real cost of delay tracked
Numerous analysts had confirmed the viability and cost-effectiveness of this intervention, most recently the Centre for Development and Enterprise in a comprehensive report.
"If treasury had implemented the policy on April 1 2010 instead of caving in to pressure from Cosatu, it would today have already benefited almost 200 000 young people and created more than 80 000 net new jobs."
The DA campaign - calling on government to implement the youth wage subsidy now - tracked the real cost of the delay in this policy and showed just how damaging further delays would be.
"We call on all South Africans to join the DA in asking the president to reject any further delays and start tackling the crisis of youth unemployment today."
It was up to Zuma to take the tough decisions in the interests of the unemployed and marginalised, but so far he had failed to cut through the widening ideological divide between those ministers aligned to Cosatu and the left, and those open to more pragmatic solutions to the severe and worsening economic problems, they said.