Unemployment SA’s Ticking Timebomb!!

Unemployment the Ticking Timebomb!              Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 9:16am

                                                                                                               The “mobs” are rising

When the Arab spring began and it’s wave sought to mount across nations, some of us argued we need not fool ourselves to think we are light-years and miles apart from such impending threat.

It is my contention there is only one thing that can bring a true challenge to the ANC led government. Contrary to what some postulated recently, granting the Dalai Lama a visa or not has absolute no bearing on this country’s future or not. The only true challenge to stability in this young democracy is the alarming high unemployment rate of South Africans I call this our ticking timebomb. Unemployment it is argued is averaging for this tiny nation of 50 million people at an alarming 29% across board.

Unemployment in SA context was never not a concern from the dark days of Apartheid when job reservation informed by race definition was the order of the day. Unemployment for the oppressed black cohort was always high, and reflected a grave disparity. Back then it was a justified argument to contend a racist Apartheid government had no interest in creating jobs for the oppressed.

The reality is we live in a democratic era, in which people have exercised their democratic franchise to vote for a “better life for all”as the ANC slogan remonstrates. The expressed hope of such vote inculcates the dream of dignity being restored to the masses of South African populace.

The truth is 17 years into democracy that dignity defined in a home and a job for all is looking like a mirage forever appearing to evaporate into the imagination of an abysmal utopia. Next to a home nothing gives anyone more credence of dignity than a job. For it is usually the job that enables one to own a home.

In China and other Eastern world countries it’s a blatant insult not to have a job. It is said people sob when they come to retirement age for it would mean their lives and therefore their dignity would become eroded. In many of these societies, a job defines ones being.

I thought of the contradiction, whilst in China people would at retirement age plead for more years to work, in SA there are millions of young people who after earning a National Senior Certificate is yet to find a job. For some these have been so long out of a job, that it’s fair to argue, they are going into retirement age and never had worked in a meaningful sense.

The street corner intersection Main and Murray streets in a place called Meredale right next to Southgate in Johannesburg is a gathering place and pick up spot for cheap day-labour. This corner is not unique in Johannesburg or any city, town or township in SA.

What troubles me is the fact and truth that many faces have been here for more than 10 years. I know them for as a local church we initiated programs of feeding and educational training targeting the very unemployed where many of these familiar faces were a part of that program of over 12 years ago.

In the USA the current Republican front runner for now  a “black” wealthy male Herman Cain, whom I am convinced will be ejected by the very Republicans sooner rather than later, accuses those who engage in the Wall Street protests as stupid, shifting the blame, and necessarily not owning up to their role for not having a job. Cain with his famous 9-9-9 tax reform plan, says this of people who constitute middle class job insecure protestors.

Maybe there are many Herman Cain’s amongst us in SA, regardless to their colour definition who equally simply blame the unemployed for their own dilemma. It is my unequivocal contention that this view can never be justified in a SA context. It is my contention that if we sit today with 8million people unemployed, we must ask why:

I would imagine there can be a multiplicity of reasons advanced for or in clarification of such, however that some of these reasons emanate from a political platform is undeniable. I shall venture to share the prism of my thinking on the role players for such job creation mandate. I have identified three groups namely government, corporate South Africa and organized labour as the main culprits.

Government Role

This means the government of the day whilst not to create jobs existentially yet implicitly and by design necessarily must  lead politically in creating the environment for the creation of such jobs.

Government must have the foresight to engender and lead economically by providing a blue print of economic model that would necessarily result in the creation of jobs as an undeniable, irrevocable and non – negotiable subject. Governments are to legislate and promulgate laws that proves sensitive and congruent with such job creation. Governments cannot afford to be held hamstrung by an androgynous economic model in which Tripartite Alliance members contradict the economic macro plan of a future SA.

Governments ought to incentivise and equally exact penalties where role players in job creation succeed or fail to adhere to the context of such job creation. Governments must lead in singular vision of flagship context in which tough choices are made for its campaign and implementation of a definitive job creation as a non negotiable.

Corporate SA – Private sector role

Corporate SA supported by a free market based economy is supposed to create jobs. This means the entrepreneurial flair and grit of those who can see and create opportunities in a conducive climate or environment as created by the political role players proves an imperative cog in the development of job creation.

If legislation defined in all aspects proves conducive the entrepreneurs will arise and prove useful in such context. SA is known to have produced entrepreneurs that gave birth to the likes of a Shoprite, Pick & Pay, Jumbo Cash & Carry to mention a few.

Yet job creation must not be unsustainable job creation where greed and a lust for profits determine the type and quality of jobs created. Where human capital in an irresponsible manner can be used to enrich oneself at the very expense of the poor. It must be the obligation of corporate SA to work for a sustainable decent job creation model realizable I’m praxis.

Corporate SA owes it to the poor to play a meaningful role for often if not always it’s existence is owed to the very poor defined as workers. A sense of responsible wealth creation is advocated in which the workers benefit meaningfully firstly in wages, development and opportunities for co- ownership.

Organised Labour Role

The role of organized labour is to work for the basic conditions of employment that advocates a sense of responsible labour context in which human capital is respected, not abused and benefits from the true meaning of job creation. Such organized labour role is to act as watchdog over the implementation of legislation that speaks to fair an equitable labour practices supported by opportunities for development of such human capital through skilling and retraining.

Having attempted to set out the roles of the role players in the loop of job creation the question is where did we go wrong that we sit with a jobless growth economy? What detours did we take that we have as a collective failed the SA Youth that more and more comes to be defined as a lost cause, forced to shebeens, drug homes and medicated orca pipes? How be it that we arrived at this ticking timebomb, that is becoming a growing pandemic that threatened to spill over into protest with grave ramifications.

It is my contention that all role players are to blame for our prevalent and precarious jobless context.

Firstly government as led by the ANC failed to lead in a singular model of economic development. The arguments around what can and should work for SA to alleviate the crises of joblessness, has not received the priority in policy definition and articulation such as is aggressively required.

The president upon beginning to serve as president of SA had the nerve as misled by advisors to say they would create during the calendar year 2009-2010, 5 million jobs. At the end of that term, these figures were grossly adjusted to a 300000 outlook. Yet even than much of this simply could not be considered as sustainable job creation for it appears much of this found meaning in part time or short term jobs embrace.

I am of the view if such grave unproven claims of job creation can be advanced by such high office in such erroneous fashion it must point to the lack of research, attention, and effort given by government to the subject where it cannot cohesively lead us in seeing our way through the proverbial land-mine field of explosive context. Government regardless to all programms such as EPWP, ASGISA etc failed to make this a priority because the government is yet to unequivocally pronounce on the economic model for SA.

It appears the ANC, SACP and COSATU alliance have not found the common road that puts SA first but often gets lost in the rhetoric of political ideology when the SA  Youth are asking “where are the jobs”.

Herein lies the challenge, the leaders and officials who earn 7 figure salary incomes assigned to lead this process are a part of those who live in the gated communities, who drive the luxury German sedans, their children attend the exclusive private schools, they shop at Woolworths and their wives have business dealings hence they see not and do not feel the unemployed’s cry for they are ensconced in a cocoon of so called safety, which affords them the luxury of theorizing when others scratch in dustbins for a meal. We must not be surprised if in Nigerian experience the new black elites’ children are taken hostage by the very unemployed in a quest for ransom.

These may not know but soon this unemployed masses will rise up and take them hostage for they mirror the enemy instead of the brother and sister from another mother.

Whilst organized labour forever excuses themselves from a conjoined role of being equally responsible for this lack of job creation in the SA plateau it cannot deny it must shoulder blame for this jobless economy. The same which has become acceptable for the disparity of unemployed is defied by the shiny luxurious German sedans that liberally fills our SA roads.

Organized labour’s claim of power will soon be tested by those who are unemployed who will expose the hypocrisy of organized labour bosses who claim they work in the interest of the poor but have long become partners in the economic butchering of the poor. These are shareholders by way of their investment arms and have calibrated sanguinely to the pace of capitalistic abuse.

Organised labour simply does not have the SA unemployed interest at heart when it can condone the abuse at our schools by the likes of it’s affiliates, where educators dont teach but are involved and engaged in political formation and mobilisation during the school teaching time. Organized labour shall soon hear the poor call them sellouts, they will hear the unemployed say you have make getting a job 10 times worse for us. They will hear the unemployed say you do not represent us but your vested interest. Organized labour leaders may soon fall victim to being held hostage no different to captains of industry.

Corporate SA with it’s intransigence stance manifested in a almost hard nosed “I don’t care attitude of self interest” will soon see the masses at the gates of their plush offices, with a threat to burn these to the ground. SA Inc, with it’s shades of black and white business who are held hostage in a chess game of who controls what for what political expediency will soon collectively fall victim in more than one way to the gathering wave action of dissent that will not discriminate between black or white vernacular or english.

I was in downtown Los Angeles yesterday and I overheard in the PCS cellphone shop I was, a man remark to the owner, the “mobs” are on 7th and Flower Streets heading this way. I found out the term “mob” is the name given to those who protest the Wall Street abuse. I thought how erroneous that those who legitimately have grown tired of abuse at the hands of heartless capitalists are now called “mobs” be it as it may, perhaps I must say to the collective role-players of non job creation in SA today, the “mobs” are coming, the “mobs” are rising yes the “mobs” are sick and tired of your political games and chivas regal and expensive cigar puffing, and Che Guavarian theorising when your very action and attitudes insult the revolution Guavara stood, lived and died for.

This nation teeters on implosion if true solutions for job creation are not found and found expeditiously. We run the risk of ” mob” governance which could lead to anarchy, but this timebomb is ticking swiftly to a potential tragic end. For those who think this is a prophetic necessarily gloom prediction, just wait and see.

Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine


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