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Unemployment a ticking time bomb - Cosatu and SACP

Statistics South Africa had said unemployment had reached a crisis point after it peaked to a record of 34.9%. Picture: Henk Kruger/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Statistics South Africa had said unemployment had reached a crisis point after it peaked to a record of 34.9%. Picture: Henk Kruger/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Feb 12, 2022

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Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Cape Town - Cosatu and the SACP have warned that rising unemployment remained a serious challenge and needed to be addressed urgently.

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They said President Cyril Ramaphosa had touched on this issue in his State of the Nation Address but more action was needed.

The ANC alliance partners said this was a disaster waiting to happen. They welcomed the extension of the Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 until March next year, but said unemployment remained one of the major problems for the country.

Statistics South Africa had said unemployment had reached a crisis point after it peaked to a record of 34.9%.

They also raised concern about Eskom, saying loadshedding had a serious negative effect on the economy. The country has been severely hit by loadshedding in the last few months, costing it billions of rands.

Both the SACP and Cosatu said most of the people who were affected by unemployment were the youth.

“The President said the South African economy benefited from a clear and stable macroeconomic framework in 2021. However, it was in the third quarter of 2021 when unemployment in the country rose to its highest level in our democratic dispensation, since 1994.

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“The lowest unemployment rate in terms of the official definition that excludes discouraged work-seekers was in 1995. However, that was a whopping 16.5%. Unemployment increased to crisis-high annual rates of above 20% starting in 1996, the year in which the government adopted the economic policy called Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR),” said the SACP.“

They said further: “Since then, South Africa consistently failed to create employment to reduce the official unemployment rate to 20% and further down towards securing the right to work for all. Throughout, the bigger picture of unemployment represented by the expanded definition that includes discouraged work-seekers was consistently higher than the narrowly defined official unemployment level.

“When the expanded unemployment rate sky-rocketed to 46.6% in the third quarter of 2021, it affected a population of approximately 12.5 million active and discouraged unemployed work-seekers.”

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Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said they wanted government to act on the issue of loadshedding.

“There is more that must still be done to rebuild Eskom because the economy will not recover without a reliable and affordable electricity supply,” he said

He said the government was silent on municipalities that were collapsing, leading many businesses to leave.

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The state of municipalities must be addressed, he said.

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