While the black African population constituted the largest proportion in the country, accounting for 81.4% in the Census 2022, the high unemployment rate among this group, at 36.8%, has been described as a ticking time bomb in a country with a rapidly growing population.
South Africa’s population increased from 51.7 million in 2011 to more than 62 million in 2022.
After black Africans, coloureds made up the second-highest population group, at 8.2%, with whites declining to 7.3%, in 2022 from 8.9% in 2011, while Indians/Asians increased slightly from 2.5% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2022.
Compared to their black African counterparts, the unemployment rate among white South Africans was 7.4% in the second quarter of 2023, with a -1.2% year-on-year change.
This disparity, according to Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator, Matthew Parks, was a reminder that South Africa remained the world’s most unequal society.
“Our fault line remains our racial divides. Our inequality, poverty and unemployment levels are a ticking time bomb. If they’re not addressed, they will one day explode.
“We welcome the recent small decrease in the unemployment rate and any additional jobs, given our unemployment rate of 42.1% and a youth unemployment rate of 60%. But whilst appreciating this small decrease, we cannot be happy with four out of 10 people who cannot find work.
“Government must move faster to rebuild Eskom, Transnet and Prasa and other key SOEs, as well as our many dysfunctional municipalities to unlock the economy.
“More must be done to stimulate the economy, in particular to invest in infrastructure plus providing relief to the unemployed and the working class.
Government must move with speed. We don’t have the luxury of time nor to continue on a business-as- usual approach. Neither can we agree to Treasury’s approach of implementing reckless austerity budget cuts which will collapse enfeebled public services and suffocate an already battered economy,” said Parks.
Reacting to the Census, Cosatu’s alliance partner, the ANC, said on Wednesday said the report was an indication of the ANC’s commitment to improving the lives of citizens.
ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu Motsiri described it as a promising pathway that reveals progress towards a united, prosperous South Africa.
“Recent data by Statistics South Africa reveals that steady progress is being made, with a consecutive decrease in unemployment rates and a decline in annual consumer price inflation. The government is moving towards addressing immigration concerns by establishing a border management agency.
The 2022 Census Report provides a comprehensive, qualitative and quantitative answer.
“The report highlights numerous achievements that instil hope and demonstrate that the ANC is a working organisation committed to the nation’s growth and development. The ANC is under no illusions that the country faces several urgent challenges. Among them are corruption, electricity supply issues, poverty, and unemployment. We are determined to build on this progress and do more, faster. We are working tirelessly to renew our organisation and advance our societal transformation agenda,” she said.
Meanwhile, former DA leader Mmus Maimane’s Build One South Africa has disputed the Census and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claim that the ANC government has increased access to education during its time in office.
Its spokesperson Roger Solomons said: “At least 5.2 million young children of school-going age are not in formal education – an increase of 200 000 in the past decade.
Minister Angie Motshekga and the Department of Basic Education are primarily responsible for this dire situation.
“Motshekga has been in office for 14 years and has overseen the gradual decay of learning and empowerment of young people, as standards drop, and statistics are spun to cover up her shortcomings.
“Every South African child should be able to become anything they want to be through education in any school in the country. This will not happen with Angie Motshekga holding the power to decide their futures.”