Mboweni says that unemployment is government's greatest challenge
JOHANNESBURG - South African joblessness was expected to hit record highs in the second quarter, when the country finally tallies the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said on Tuesday that the future looked bleak, as the number of unemployed people increased by 344 000 to 7.1 million between January and March from 6.7m in the fourth quarter of 2019.
South African finance minister Tito Mboweni took note of the job crisis that the country finds itself in.
In his supplementary budget speech, Mboweni, said, "The figures from yesterday show that unemployment is our single greatest challenge. The Economic Support Package sets aside R100 billion for a multi‐year, comprehensive response to our jobs emergency. The President’s job creation and protection initiative will be rolled out over the medium‐term. It will include a repurposed public employment programme and a Presidential Youth Employment Intervention. In this year, an amount of R6.1bn is already allocated, and a further R19.6 billion has been set aside mainly for this purpose."
Mboweni further said, "As of mid‐June, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has provided R23 billion in COVID‐19 relief to over 4.7 million workers affected by the pandemic.
This has required a huge upgrade and repurposing of the UIF system to deal with the increase in mostly online applications, and to build in protections against fraud. We thank all involved for the upgrade, there were many individuals from the private and NGO sector who volunteered their time to assist the UIF. There are still challenges but we are confident that the team is working tirelessly to iron them out."