Unemployment in SA - a bleak picture ZIPHO MAKHBOA

2016-06-29 06:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

UNEMPLOYMENT, a term once foreign to our South African context, has become a household name.

Roughly, only four out of 10 people have jobs, while the rest fall into three categories - seeking, given up, or trying some sort of business.

Now, even a man of modicum in tellect realises there is a crisis. The time for romanticising critical issues that continue to decay society is over.

Of course, it would be injudicious for an analysis of this nature not to attribute, to a significant extent, the current unemployment crisis to our unequal historical past.

This historical past gave us unequal education while certain opportunities were reserved for some at the expense of others. Which is why today, in a country of 35.5 million working-age people, only 15.1 million are employed while 8.4 million are unemployed (SRI 2016). The saddest part is, of the 8.4 millioni unemployed people, 5.1 million are seeking employment while 3.3 million are discouraged work seekers (SRI 2016).

In comparison, South Africa remains the only country with the highest unemployment rates in the world at 25.4%, followed by Greece at 24.7% and Spain at 21.8% (OECD 2016). It is understandable for Greece and Spain to be going through such, given their recent financial meltdown, but South Africa … lest we forget the 600 000 university unemployed graduates who are languishing at home.

The bigger picture still eludes our government, for example, our government always advocates for the creation of “decent” jobs. The fact is that our South African context cannot afford the rest of the people. Instead, more focus should be placed on creating entry-level factory jobs - jobs that do not require serious qualifications.

Remember in this country we have 22 million people who do not have matric. If we continue to focus on the creation of the so called “decent jobs”, where should the 22 million people go to seek employment?

We have seen countries like Vietnam, Turkey and China applying this approach, thus extricating millions of people from the shackles of poverty. Only mass employment could precipitate economic inclusion and curb poverty. This country needs serious and vehement reforms starting at societal level. At this level there seems to be the notion that “no wage is better than low wage”. A multitude of youths in this country prefer staying at home rather than taking a low-wage job, thus forgetting that a job, whether paying well or little, still affords its subject autonomy, yes freedom, for example, of choosing what to eat for lunch, etc., which is something most picky job seekers do not have.

Also, the inculcation of entrepreneurship culture among our youth must first and foremost be backed by honest institutional reforms. Imagine how easy it would be if financial institutions were to allow youths to write their funding proposals and business plans in their own vernacular. In conclusion, one can deduce by saying that people of this country, particularly the youth, are mostly victims of unemployment by virtue of the environment within which they live.

By environment I mean institutions, laws, rules, regulations and social norms and apartheid ramifications.

• Zipho Makhoba is an author, political philosopher, research consultant and social commentator.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.