South African Statistician-General, Risenga Maluleke, says the country’s economy is slowly turning the corner, as more and more jobs have been recovered, following the jobs bloodbath caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said even though the economy is not growing fast enough, the country’s high rate of unemployment is slowly declining after SA recorded the loss of more than 2 million jobs in 2020 and 2021.
Maluleke was speaking during the annual Progressive Business Forum held at the Church on the Hill in Mbombela yesterday.
The colloquium, attended by business leaders, has become a permanent feature of the annual ANC’s celebrations.
Maluleke said the past two years had brought some of the jobs that were lost in the past four years.
“Our economy was not badly affected by the recession of 2008 and remained resilient until 2009. However, the last two years since the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has registered its highest economic growth since 2011.
“However, there is a need to ensure that our economy grows much stronger higher; than the 1% and 2% we have been seeing,“ he said.
Every number counted for the country to return to its pre-Covid-19 rates.
He added that for this to happen faster than it had been in the past two years, business had to come to the party and help in economic recovery.
“As a statistician, every number, big or small, must be recorded and we must encourage business to ensure that they provide the much-needed injection into the country’s economy,“ he said.
Maluleke said recovery of jobs had been steady. with the country reporting the recovery of 600 000 posts in the last quarter of 2022 and more than 400 000 jobs last year.
“The biggest recovery was recorded in 2022 when we recovered 600 000 jobs. What this means is that if our economy was growing faster, we would be having better prospects. As the numbers grow so does unemployment rate.
“Even though our rate of unemployment is not recovering fast enough, we have seen unemployment dropping. It is starting to decline to 31%. I know that this might not be something to clap hands for as we are close to tripping, (but) our economy is recovering, even though it is not recovering fast enough,” he said.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Ibrahim Patel, said changing geopolitics across the globe had an impact on South Africa’s economy, adding that Africa, BRICS and Agoa agreements were central in the country’s recovery.
"Our economy is shaped by internal trade and investment. Our exports contribute to our GDP and the recent summits and conferences illustrate this. We have seen developments in the BRICS countries which have been significant in our trade.
“During the BRICS summits, we saw the expansion of the BRICS bloc which in turn brought investments into the country. The same can be said of our Agoa which has also been a facilitator of investments and economic development,“ he said.