File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA
This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead labour and business in convening the much-anticipated national jobs summit.

The important gathering is expected to, among others, come up with proposals on how to deal with pressing problems, including youth unemployment and economic growth.

This effort in forging a social compact on jobs and the economy is an important occasion for Ramaphosa and the country, more so because of the context in which it takes place.

The economy is growing at too sluggish a pace to start dealing with the question of unemployment and meet the goals as encapsulated in the National Development Plan.

The National Planning Commission has already slashed the forecast on the unemployment rate by 2030 in half, saying the best the country can achieve is a jobless rate of 14%, instead of the 6% envisaged.

Clearly, South Africa is at crossroads with regards to the problem of unemployment, which has remained stubbornly high for so long.

High crime rates, violent service delivery protests, a high burden of disease and substance abuse are but some of the problems that are a manifestation of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

Unemployed youths are now at the forefront of violent service delivery protests, and are an army of people that are - and can be - used for just about any negative activity.

It is high time that Ramaphosa and other stakeholders provide workable solutions to the unemployment problem plaguing this country.

On Thursday and Friday, Ramaphosa will have an opportunity to not only provide hope to the hopeless unemployed youth, but to also inspire confidence in his administration.

Already, global ratings agency Fitch has cast doubt on Ramaphosa’s stimulus package, saying it was unlikely to deliver a “significant boost” to the country’s economic growth.

There is no question that some of the challenges faced by the country have to do with former president Jacob Zuma’s mismanagement of the economy and the resultant state capture.

But Ramaphosa, a former deputy of Zuma’s, has the difficult task of turning the country’s economic fortunes around and creating jobs - a task which could lead to his undoing if he fails.

Political Bureau