Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema addresses the press after walking out of Parliament at the State of the Nation Address in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Rodger Bosch/Pool Photo via AP)

Johannesburg - EFF leader Julius Malema is not convinced by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s six-point approach to tackling the country’s stubborn unemployment rate.

Malema said Ramaphosa continued to create long-term plans focused on consultations, which have had little results on moving the unemployment numbers.  

“There are no concrete plans to end unemployment. Ramaphosa continues to have long-term plans of consultations and initiatives that do not address the immediate problems of unemployment especially amongst the youth,” he said while addressing the media at a Press Club post-SONA event in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa gave his State of The Nation Address on Thursday night. A large focus of his speech was on how to tackle the unemployment problem with a specific focus on youth unemployment.

The official unemployment rate, as documented by Statistics South Africa, showed that in the fourth quarter the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 29.1% - the highest since 2008. 

The figures were more startling at 38.7% - if you include those who had given up on looking for employment. 

The bulk of those unemployed were young people who made up 58% of the unemployment rate.

Ramaphosa announced his six-point initiative which he hopes will help young people find jobs, despite criticism that without solid economic growth the prospect of the unemployment numbers dropping was very unlikely.

THE PLAN

The plan includes providing young people with resources and information with work readiness training meant to help their prospects of employability. 

Another plan includes establishing a Presidential Youth Service programme which will pay young people to build the nation. 

The biggest part of the list includes allocating 1% of the national budget which would be used to finance youth employment initiatives.

Malema said these plans were unlikely to solve the unemployment issue.

“He proposes the building of a new university, which shows a lack of imagination on how complex the crisis of building a skilled youth even in the most remote areas. Instead of job summits and a commitment to build an entirely new institution, there are more practical ways to ease the crisis of joblessness in this country.

“Firstly, we must create our own industries and reopen factories particularly in the most rural areas of our country. Instead of building a new institution of higher learning, we must expand on the existing infrastructure and capacity in strategic economic zones whose economies are not being utilized to the best interests of the country,” Malema said.

“It means we must expand into agricultural areas and ensure that people do not have to leave their rural homes for opportunities, but we create the conditions for the economic activity where they come from,” said Malema.

Political Bureau