Our Unemployment Challenge Vs Our Values

2017-06-01 17:02

A great opinion piece, creates dialogue and brings perspective on subjects. It however aims to hold its own both with integrity and lack bias, for sometimes the only treasure left to be enjoyed in the midst of despair is knowing that author's heart is in the right place. There is an unsettling reality dictating how our national narrative is developed and discussed. Even with the growing pangs of our democracy, we remain unmeasured and silent with defining the South African value system. We do not share as a people a common value system, which could be comforting to how we deal with our reality today and how we are addressing the concerns of our future.

Today Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) announced that South Africa's unemployment has reached a ten year high, to level last reached in 2003. Unemployment using the narrow definition of the word now sits at 27.7% (6.2 million South Africans of employable age) for quarter one of 2017. This number as we know in SA, exclude those job seekers, that have given up on looking for a job. If they were to be included, our national unemployment is sitting at 36.4% ( 9.6 million South Africans). There are positives that this numbers might not be able to reflect like, the fact that quarter to quarter employment increased by 144 000 people, which was offset by the growth in the number of job-seekers.

When the trend is dire and there is no immediate hope, our values and motivation as country should be a solace from which political and social reorganisation should come from. This will particularly be of importance given how despair can lead to further social challenges if left unchecked. It is for this reason I would like to tabulate a set of values that have shaped modern economies in the past  century and I believe we should sober up to them to meet the demands of our future.

A disposition to accept new ideas and new methods


A quick look at South Africa's GDP shows a country that has become a post Industrial emerging market, with  the high skilled services sector, being the biggest contributor to GDP. Now in our  country land is a big  political issue, and the demands of a highly skilled services economy remain an outstanding debate in how we embrace our position in the world as an economy. South Africa draws less value from manufacturing and primary sectors combined, as they do from services. This might be a natural order that evolved the country to this position, however in order to thrive from it, there are certain traits that  should be valued to drive the economy forwards.  The following have been my lament for a considerable period:

Post-industrial society is marked by an increased valuation of knowledge. The greatest beneficiaries in the post-industrial society are young educated professionals, thriving from  knowledge endowments. It is this reason that makes the following ideas unacceptable for South Africa today:

The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results show that numeracy and literacy tests conducted among six million  foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3) and intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6) pupils attending government schools, where learners performed at an average of 35 percent in Literacy and 28 percent in Numeracy. These are solvable challenges, as opposed land, if this generation is to thrive in a services driven economy.  Parallel  to this challenge is the the dropout rate in schools.South Africa cannot afford have a dropout rate above 50% as it is the case today, if  we are to build that future thriving post industrial society

A greater concern for planning, organisation and efficiency

Let us pause for a second and consider the impossible task that we place through the vote on politicians to drive the country the right direction politically! South Africa needs to lift productivity by smartly combining different resources to produce goods and services others wish to purchase. When the right combinations of choices are made, higher production, value, and incomes can be achieved for every hour worked. This is called productivity. The demands though, for meeting such an end are steep, for a country still dealing with the stigma of its past, and the social divisions of its modern society.

Despite that, what we do know is that higher productivity in a given country can shape how the country achieves well-being. Well-being can include quality healthcare and education, excellent infrastructure, safer communities, stronger support for poor and vulnerable people, and sustainability of the environment. The economic dynamism includes an ability to reduce taxation rates while still providing a level of government services that meets public demand. To this end South Africa needs to keep the debate on the following issues on the table:

The management of the  law and property rights, as well as the enforceability of contracts and building low levels of corruption

Open competitive markets for trade of goods and services, domestically and internationally, and the ability to take the best possible advantage from trade (including through proximity and access to key markets, SADC is a 280 million market that SA's SMME sector can thrive in)

Improvements in human capability through well directed public and private investment in quality education

A high quality low cost regulatory environment, acknowledging that there are important societal benefits from regulation that does not hamper productivity unnecessarily, including the reduction of red tape;

Effective governance and management of organisations – whether government, businesses, community or others – to get the best out of resources available to those organisations and

The ease and attractiveness of doing business, recognising the important role of business in creating a high-performing economy (such as through employment and innovation)

The ability to see the world as Calculable

South Africa can call itself blessed to have over three Institutions with published scenarios of how the future of the country might look like. Its is clear that country can calculate ultimate eventualities from the work done by the South African Institute for Race Relations Centre, Clem Sunter, Dinokeng Scenarios and other on the future environment from which our society should thrive.   However for a minute consider that, according to the annual World Economic Report which published by The World Bank reported that by 2030, the global economy will grow from 35 trillion U.S. dollars in 2005 to expand to 72 trillion dollars, the share of total global output of developing countries will grow from the current 1/5 to nearly 1/3 and the share of the global purchasing power will occupy more than 1/2. Report also highlighted a general underlying trend: in the next 15 years, developing countries will be a major force in global economic growth. Over the period to 2030, with the spread of new technologies such as the Internet, developing countries will go from the periphery to the center of the world economy, and gradually grow into an important engine for global growth. Again highlighting a flow of information that makes the future predictable and the required adjustments calculable. The South Africa, we need can be built.

A belief in distributive justice

Distributive justice is in essence an economic framework that each society has — its laws, institutions, policies, etc. — results in fair distributions of economic benefits and burdens across members of the society. These economic frameworks are the result of human political processes and they constantly change both across societies and within societies over time. The structure of these frameworks is important because the economic distributions resulting from them fundamentally affect people's lives. Arguments about which frameworks and/or resulting distributions are morally preferable constitute the topic of distributive justice. Principles of distributive justice are therefore best thought of as providing moral guidance for the political processes and structures that affect the distribution of economic benefits and burdens in societies. (Standford Enclypidea of Philosopy)

We can be better and achieve more!

Be Inspired South Africa

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