By Herbert Theledi
Inequality is often referred to as "the phenomenon of unequal or unjust distribution of resources and opportunities among members of a given society".
In South Africa, this phenomenon is a daily occurrence in communities deeply entrenched in poverty.
In fact, statistics over the years have shown a fundamental trend in various communities where the rich continue to be filthy rich while the poor hardly get by. This has been evident in townships, peri-urban and rural areas.
According to Statistics South Africa, the country’s unemployment rate has hit a new record high of 34.4%, or 7.826 million people, in the second quarter of 2021.
This is a disturbing increase from the 32.6%, 7.242 million people, in the first quarter. 2021’s unemployment rate sets a record for the highest since the labour force survey began in 2008.
The World Bank also states that "South Africa remains a dual economy with one of the highest, persistent inequality rates in the world."
It further adds that: "High inequality is perpetuated by a legacy of exclusion and the nature of economic growth, which is not pro-poor and does not generate sufficient jobs."
Therefore, in an effort to contribute to economic opportunities, especially for communities that have suffered further socio-economic inequality because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we, at Nthoese Development alongside Sampada Private Equity and the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, recently completed construction and opened the newly redeveloped and expanded Bushbuckridge shopping centre in Mpumalanga.
You see, this is not just a business venture but an effort to assist communities to grow the economy and improve their livelihoods.
It is to ensure we close the gap of high unemployment and inequality that continues to bedevil our communities.
We have always prided ourselves in community integration when it pertains to all development projects.
The redevelopment of the Bushbuckridge shopping centre is no exception.
As business and Government leaders, we must step up our commitment in addressing our unemployment problem to ensure a stable, prosperous and peaceful society.
More jobs means more economically active citizens which translates to plenty of spending power, GDP growth and an increased tax base.
With the redevelopment and expansion of this new centre, up to 1, 140 temporary jobs and 623 full-time jobs have been created. This is during and post the construction.
This will propel local residents out of unemployment and secure financial relief that will increase quality of life and decrease crime rates in the area.
At the core of this project also comes service delivery, particularly as we have emerged from local government elections held last month.
Service delivery for many communities across the country means the provision of excellent roads, good stormwater drains, access to quality water as well as working sewerage facilities.
These are fundamental to meeting everyone's basic human right.
Service delivery also includes good transport services such as the bus terminal and taxi rank we plan on constructing as part of this project as it will address challenges faced by the community.
Partnerships between private business and local municipalities are important as we have seen in this instance and through this project.
It signifies that everyone ought to come on board and be hands-on.
We can no longer just leave it to the government to create a much-needed change in people's lives and livelihoods. Everyone needs to be involved.
* Herbert Theledi is the Founder and Managing Director of Nthoese Development.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.