It’s the Unemployment, Stupid

Stephen Grootes’ column in Daily Maverick  explains that South Africa has a depressingly high rate of unemployment, and yet it has hardly featured as an issue in the 2019 election campaigns. This while more than half the country’s young people are unemployed, and probably unemployable, with the only option open to them anti-social behaviours like crime and drug abuse.

Fact: South Africa has a major unemployment problem. Wherever you go you find people desperate to work, desperate to get the income and dignity only work can bring. And yet, despite the 2019 elections being less than two weeks away, it does not seem that this issue is really dominating. At the same time, there is now some evidence that most voters don’t believe any particular party can resolve this crisis. That alone has important implications for our society.

While the numbers can differ depending on which study you look at it, it is generally accepted that South Africa has a youth unemployment rate of above 50%. This means that half of the young people are not studying or working. Worse, there is evidence that many of these young people now believe that there’s no hope they will ever get a job. Their existence is eked out on a day-to-day basis. The temptation to indulge in anti-social behaviour and substance abuse must be incredibly strong.

The three major political parties and most of the others recognise this. Their manifestos contain pledges and promises to deal with the problem. The ANC has made jobs one of its central campaign features, as it did in 2009. The DA does the same, while the EFF has moved from focusing almost solely on land to the slogan “Land and Jobs Now”. Like many other democracies, this is one of the most important issues for the parties.

To read the full article in Daily Maverick, click here. 

Picture: Grootes-Economy