The March for Real Jobs in South Africa

2014-02-12 18:29

The study of economic history clearly shows that national economic development, (decent living and real jobs for the majority of the citizens) is not a miracle or random big bang. For real economic development to happen for a given nation there always have been a rational determined laser like focus by the people or the politics of the country. For this to happen there is need for maturity and self sacrifice where people embrace common interests. And common national interests often transcends and move beyond parochial insularities, as to enable the people work cohesively together for the attainment of goals common to the nation, which ultimately translate to their welfare and felicity.

The sad case starring us in South Africa is that parochial micro-loyalties, with their baggage of narrowness and insularity are being canonized as the only social value, where a tunnel vision is enabled and social cohesiveness for the common national good fails and falters. The war of ‘us’ against ‘them’ flowing from the Democratic Alliance march for real jobs is a clear case in point.

The march for real jobs by the Democratic Alliance, though it had full echo of political drum beating and posturing inherent in it, was a worthy national course in two fundamental areas. First if the real jobs march could have gone peacefully with no political clashes and collisions this could have been a testament for real practical democratic maturity, it would have been a demonstration that when coming to democracy and the free expression we are in actual fact one nation united – it would have given all of us the exuberance and passion to join in the festivals in celebration of 20 years of democracy that are currently going on.

The second issue, is that the real jobs march was simply about that – to raise well researched economic findings that the country’s people – millions of people are heartily in need of real jobs – are looking for decent real jobs to settle in, and not a life of hopping around like grasshoppers from one temporary job to another.

So the political clashes, commotion and the brandishing of bricks and machetes to those who were legally marching leaves a sour taste, it leaves one wondering whether we have our national priorities pact rightly or whether our democracy is maturing.

The issue of real jobs is not a party political phenomenon; it should be elevated above our instant human passions. This issue for real jobs has emerged out of rigorous studies undertaken by some of our best research think tanks we have in the country.

In 2010 the Democracy and Governance Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) under the leadership of Professor Kwandiwe Kondlo published a very incisive book entitled “The Zuma Administration: Critical Challenges”, edited by Mashupye H. Maserumule and Kwandile Kondlo himself who is now with University of Johannesburg.

In Chapter 6 of the book there is a critical assessment of the kind of jobs being created and the book laments that these are not real sustainable jobs that can improve people’s living conditions.

The HSRC states: “The question of employment (or lack thereof) is at the heart of extreme poverty and social exclusion. However the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is unlikely to meet the wider set of sustainable social development goals and to reduce poverty and underdevelopment. This is because the jobs provided are only temporary or part-time and many people continue to be unemployed thereafter. Although the strategy is aimed at making it possible for people to earn an income after leaving the EPWP – either through finding a job or starting a business – the EPWP only offers income over short and medium term period”.

The book further notes that “The Zuma Administration is faced with the challenge of creating more job opportunities, improving conditions of employment, and minimizing job losses”.

The issue of jobs is so critical in this country that it should supersede all parochial insularities. Decent living and real jobs should be a rallying cry above everything else in this country. Everyone is affected by the hunger and the poverty that we are seeing everywhere; solving the problems of poverty and unemployment should be the point and pivot of our oneness as a nation.  It should be a place where we join hands as a nation.

The basis and foundation for a truly well functioning cohesive country is having allegiance to a common value; which in our case should be getting rid of poverty, hunger, untold human suffering and creation of real jobs. A real well functioning country could be comprised of many ethnic nationalities; a variety of races, divergent conflicting ideological orientation; but at the end of it all - all should give way as we converge in one common country goal, which in our case is the fight against poverty, human suffering and unemployment.

It requires of all of us to developing this orientation above parochial insularities, where there is the absence of these, the country looses any semblance of meaning: its force as a nation, its value as one country.

Are we a country without national identity to such an extent that every attempt at getting South Africa on its feet is interpreted through primordial and parochial insularities?


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