Job creation is one of the big challenges facing the GNU

President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes that parties in the Government of National Unity (GNU) will produce jobs. Photographer : Phando Jikelo / Parliament of SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes that parties in the Government of National Unity (GNU) will produce jobs. Photographer : Phando Jikelo / Parliament of SA

Published Jun 30, 2024


Since ascending to power in 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s difficult challenge has been creating job opportunities for his country. This has not produced desirable results.

However, the president hopes that parties in the Government of National Unity (GNU) will produce jobs.

Ramaphosa's ANC will be sharing power with five other parties after eating humble pie in the May 29 general elections, losing its party dominance for the first time in the 30 years since democracy.

This has not only hurt the party’s popularity but has also presented a new challenge on how the ruling party will be able to deliver on its promises for jobs, among others.

In his motivation for South Africans to warm up to the GNU, Ramaphosa said on Monday last week that the parties to the GNU have agreed on priorities for the incoming administration, adding that at the top of the list of priorities was the achievement of rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth to create jobs.

“Giving effect to the principles of that Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be the overriding focus of this GNU. This will be done by pursuing a common programme to eradicate poverty and build a more equal society, create jobs, and to make the government truly work for the people.

“The GNU Statement of Intent provides a solid base for genuine cooperation between parties across the political spectrum who have signed up of their own accord.

“The Statement of Intent commits the signatories to a set of foundational principles that include respect for constitutionalism, accountability, transparency and community participation in government; evidence-based policy and decision-making; professionalisation of the public service; integrity and good governance,” he said.

Showing his unwavering support for business, he emphasised that the GNU stays the course of the structural reform that is underway to improve the business operating environment and establish South Africa as an investment destination of choice.

Ramaphosa stated that it was necessary to resolve long-standing challenges in key industries and create more jobs and opportunities.

“The fact that there is broad consensus among the parties on the priorities of the incoming administration encourages us that the GNU will indeed take the country forward. Emanating from the priorities outlined in the Statement of Intent, the parties will further refine the GNU’s programme, including through the proposed National Dialogue process.

“We remain committed to consensus-building and to the representation of a broad range of interests and viewpoints within government. At the same time, we are all keenly aware that South Africans expect action, implementation, and results,” said Ramaphosa.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warned last year that South Africa’s high unemployment rate, particularly among its youth, is a “ticking time bomb” that could result in social unrest.

The UNDP’s South Africa National Human Development Report for 2022 focused on analysing South Africa’s youth employability.

“Youth unemployment in South Africa is a challenge that limits the earning potential of youth, stymies business growth, threatens social cohesion, and puts pressure on public resources,” the report said.

“There is no doubt that the high unemployment rate is a ticking time bomb.”

The Spectator Index’s 2023 youth unemployment rate list reveals that South Africa has the worst youth unemployment among all included countries.

South Africa has over 10 million young people aged 15-24 years. Of these, only 2.5 million were in the labour force, either employed or unemployed.

As the 7th administration starts its term, it was not clear how the parties in the GNU plan to create the much needed job opportunities to boost the country’s ailing economy.

Meanwhile, 10 out of 18 parties represented in Parliament have chosen to form part of the seventh administration, and eight have opted not to be part of the GNU pack.

The parties that have not yet joined the GNU include uMkhonto we Sizwe, the EFF, ActionSA, African Christian Democratic Movement, National Coloured Congress, Build One South Africa, African Transformation Movement, and the United Africans Transformation.

These parties hold a combined 113 (28.25%) of the 400 seats in Parliament.

Ramaphosa was elected as president of South Africa’s 7th administration with the help of the DA and the IFP, paving the way for his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria eleven days ago.

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on last week, Unisa’s political sciences Professor Dirk Kotze said the government of national unity, despite the problems being experienced, would stand as government.

“They do not have a choice. They must make it work - there is no other option. The other option will most possibly be that we have to go back for another election. If this (the GNU) doesn’t work, Parliament and the executive will become unworkable,” he said.

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