High unemployment rate casts shadow on Worker’s day

Thank you madam speaker,

Workers’ Day is a national public holiday in South Africa and since 1994, it has been celebrated on 1 May of each year.

It is rather unfortunate that we use the verb ‘celebrate’, when the real term we should be using is commemorated because celebrating implies a jovial spirit, yet our present circumstances in South Africa prove otherwise.

We cannot celebrate a country spiraling on a downward trend where over 700 jobs are lost per day.

Where are the jobs that South Africans were promised in 2009?

We cannot be satisfied as leaders in South Africa at large when we see the people especially the youth living with a sense of hopeless.

The recently released statistics by Mr. Pali Lehohla are a reflection of the hope many South Africans are losing.

The ‘Vulnerable Group Series I: The Social Profile of the Youth 2009-2014’ released by Statistics South Africa reveals that structural inequality continues to keep young black South Africans jobless and stuck in poverty.

These disturbing findings should be a call to all leaders to rise to the challenge.

The economy is not growing fast enough, corruption under ANC watch has been rampant, and higher education opportunities are few if you are poor.

According to the report, unemployment amongst black South Africans of all age groups is the highest at 28.6%. Of those who are unemployed, 66.6% are black South Africans in the age group of 15-34. Further to this unemployment amongst young people in age bracket of 15-35 has increased over the last five years to 36.8%.

It is equally shocking to note that the exposure of young South Africans to hunger is increasing. That is why I say, we cannot celebrate the freedom of workers while forgetting that so many are not working.

Look at the trends and the increase in the number of grants. Grants have proven to assist the most vulnerable members of our society to survive, yet they hardly ever empower them to be workers and eventually job-creators.

Equally concerning is the pool of people who contribute to the tax base are in decline.

Is it not logical that: for an economy to flourish, one needs to get more people off social welfare and create an environment for economically activity and growth?

Moreover, Stats SA reports that there is a decline in the number of black South Africans completing bachelor’s degrees over the years.

The percentage of workers in skilled occupations has declined for black South Africans aged 24-34.

Workers day may have its origins within the historical struggles of workers and their trade unions for solidarity between working people in their struggles to win fair employment standards.

However, today’s workers day should be dedicated to those without employment who fight every day get a job to put food on the table.

More importantly, the establishment of workers day is about a culture of human and worker rights and to ensure that these are enshrined in the national law. The real fight for today remains ensuring all South Africans economically active.

Mr.Pali Lehohla’s sentiments should inspire us as leaders to pursue the radical change needed to move our country forward.

The DA is ready to rise to this challenge and has in fact started by having the lowest unemployment rate of 24.5% in the DA-led Western Cape and 19% in other municipalities.

I thank you.

Media enquiries:

Refiloe Nt’sekhe

DA Shadow MEC for Social Development

060 558 8297

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