File picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
The latest indication by Sibanye-Stillwater that it will cut 5200 jobs is a sign of a depressed economy.

The South African economy has been battling for years now, and seems unable to get out of trouble. This is despite concerted efforts by the government to attract foreign direct investments.

The figures by Statistics South Africa do not make for good reading either, as unemployment has increased, with more people in the streets.

The labour market economy is under pressure.

Stats SA has reported that unemployment has risen from 26% to 29%. But the problem has been that even if the economy is growing, it does not create jobs.

The economy has not grown significantly compared to other countries similar to ours, which are expanding by between 6% and 7%.

The National Treasury also warned that the country’s debt level was approaching 60% of the Gross Domestic Product.

These figures paint a grim picture for any economy that wants to take its population, mostly young people, out of poverty and give them jobs.

A few years ago there was a raging debate on the social security system, with some people arguing that it would lead to South Africa becoming a welfare state.

Already more than 17 million South Africans depend on social grants, and the budget for the social protection system is R200 billion - and this will increase.

These are the statistics that the government grapples with every day, and any company that threatens to shut down its shaft or close shop is a crisis as more people will be on the streets, adding to the growing numbers of unemployed.

Sibanye-Stillwater is not the first nor will it be the last business to cut thousands of jobs in one go. Companies have done this before.

The construction sector is almost dead and buried, with little business.

More than 10 years ago South Africa was a construction site, with infrastructure and stadia ahead of the World Cup in 2010. A decade later South Africa’s economic woes have worsened, with thousands of jobs lost in the construction sector.

The government needs to come up with realistic plans to rescue the economy and save more people from starvation and poverty.