South Africa's unemployment rate is at 34.5%, with youth unemployment at a staggering 66.50%, according to the latest Stats SA data.
This means millions of people in the country have no means of supporting themselves or providing for their families. The effects of this issue can not be overstated.
One man, Lunga Mahlangu (30), an advertising specialist and writer, believes he has the solution to the nation’s woes. Mahlangu says a job guarantee scheme can solve the issue of unemployment and alleviate poverty.
This brazen idea comes from a 19th French politician and historian, Louis Blanc, who proposed that national workshops be created to employ the poor.
“I first heard about this when I conducted research on the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd US president. He spoke of having 'the right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation' in his 1944 State of Union Address.
“My curiosity in this notion of a job guarantee scheme was further ignited when I read The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics and public policy,” says Mahlangu.
He says a job guarantee scheme is about affording full economic rights to every citizen, ensuring that their material living conditions are dignified, and using the full might of the state to curtail inequality and unemployment.
Such an initiative is also highly necessary in the country, says Mahlangu, to significantly bolster the 1.3 million personnel public sector that currently serves a population of nearly 60 million.
“According to SAPS, they currently have a total of 141 389 police officers. How can such a small number of people maintain law and order?
I am not calling for state violence on people, but logic simply dictates that the numbers don’t balance. I want inequality to be reduced to near zero levels.”
Mahlangu argues that not a single city has been built since the end of apartheid, with roads, public infrastructure, and various public sites in a state of decay.
“By hiring people to do these jobs, the government would not only greatly assist citizens, but also itself in a bid to successfully run the country,” he says.
To achieve this, Mahlangu believes that there first must be state capacity. This is the strength of a government to fulfil its tasks and objectives in line with a policy framework and set goals, with the state’s ability to perform these tasks determining its competence, and the stronger the ability, the more progress can be seen in that society.
“The well-being of a people is linked to the incumbent government’s ability to tap into this state capacity and utilise it for the advancement of its people.”