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Baldwin Ndaba | 20 May 2023

Johannesburg - Labour unions and political parties have blamed load shedding for the growing number of unemployed people in the country and urged the government to create job opportunities urgently.

The call came after Stats SA revealed in its Quarterly Labour Force Survey that unemployment has grown from 32.7% to 32.9 in the first quarter of this year.

The report has revealed that Gauteng currently has 582 000 discouraged job seekers, while unemployment currently stands at 2 604 000.

Commenting on the survey, Gauteng’s DA spokesperson on economic development, Nicola du Plessis, said the current load shedding crisis has further impacted this as many businesses could not afford to procure generators and solar panels to continue trading during load shedding.

Du Plessis said recently the MEC for Economic Development, Tasneem Motara, revealed that over 300 000 job opportunities had been lost during 2022 due to the continuous rolling blackouts.

“For a long time, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been calling on the Premier to procure electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPP) in order to mitigate the risks of load shedding and over-reliance on Eskom.

“If the provincial government, under the leadership of Premier Lesufi, is serious about creating the correct environment for investment, they would ensure that all job targets are met and that all entities meant to assist small businesses fulfil their mandate,” she said.

While the increase in unemployment was widespread in the country, the North West province was the worst affected.

The DA in the North West added the ANC was to blame for the growth of unemployment, saying it was due to decades of failed ANC governance, corruption, fraud, policy uncertainty, cadre deployment and load shedding which has collapsed North West, where basic service delivery was erratic at best.

DA provincial leader Leon Basson said this sustained programme of destruction by the ANC has now yielded the fruits of their nefarious labour – mass unemployment of 54% as per the expanded definition, the highest in South Africa.

“More people in the North West are unemployed than those who have a job. More than a million persons in the North West are now left unemployed, desperate and destitute. Only 877 000 individuals have the dignity that comes with having a job, earning a salary, and taking care of their families.

“This is a socio-economic, humanitarian crisis that requires urgent intervention to restore governance, deliver basic services, attract investment that will result in economic development, growth, and job creation,” Basson said.

Cosatu also blamed the ANC for the continuous load shedding, saying the governing party must act with speed to act on it.

Cosatu’s national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the federation was deeply worried that what they hoped was momentum in reducing unemployment over the course of 2022, that this initial progress may be lost with the current rampant levels of load shedding suffocating the economy even further in 2023.

“The government’s failure to fix load shedding and drive economic recovery is reprehensible because, behind these numbers, there are struggling families and starving people.

“The latest numbers show that as of 2022, about 18,2 million South Africans live in extreme poverty.

“This is an unsustainable crisis, and something drastic is needed to provide for the possibility to change the outcomes of our economic development trajectory. So far, there is no clear strategy presented by the government to help stimulate growth and regenerate our economy.

“The same failing macroeconomic policy framework remains intact despite the rhetoric about the centrality of job creation and the transformation of the economy by the government,” Pamla said.

He said it is more critical for government to move with speed to fix the obstacles hindering economic growth to ramp up Eskom’s maintenance programme and efforts to bring on board new generation capacity.

Pamla also said more must to be done to secure the railway network and modernise the ports, which are key to ensuring mining, manufacturing, and agricultural products reach their destinations, and workers can get to work on time.

“Interventions are urgently needed to ensure local government and public service departments provide the services that the economy needs to grow. The deterioration of infrastructure and revolving door leadership in many of our big and small municipalities is embarrassing and alarming. To make a dent in unemployment and close the growing inequality, we need an activist government and a democratic developmental state that is capable of intervening effectively to transform economic relations.” he said.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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