South African Economy Not Growing Fast Enough To Tackle Unemployment


South Africa's ongoing living crisis, extreme levels of poverty and unemployment show no signs of slowing down, particularly due to the slow-growing economy that is needed to create jobs. 



South Africa's unemployment crisis has come under the spotlight at the policy dialogue arranged by Southern Africa - Towards Inclusive Economic Development programme.

The policy dialogue was held under the theme, "Rethinking Traditional Approaches to Tackling Unemployment in South Africa," with the aim of exploring "feasible, well-designed grant-based approaches for the unemployed, to complement active labour market policies." 

The country has had a long-standing issue of severe unemployment and poverty for quite some time now, which has prompted a number of government initiatives in an effort to tackle the problem and provide some relief for the citizens most affected. 

These initiatives include the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, which created around 800 000 job opportunities for unemployed youth.

About 8 million South Africans are unemployed, and the economy is not growing fast enough to create much-needed jobs.

This has sparked a huge dependency on social support for survival, with many calling for an increase and continuation of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Around 15 million South Africans are the recipients of some sort of social support, however there is a worry that government will reach a point where the social grants, particular the SRD grant, will become unaffordable. 

Some have argued that a focus should be placed on creating and implementing policies that can  support the economy to create jobs. 

There has been much debate whether the SRD grant, which began with the intent to be a temporary source of income during the pandemic, can evolve into a permanent Basic Income Grant (BIG).

Black Sash, a human rights organization at the forefront of the calls to implement the BIG, says the SRD grant should be increased as the money distributed is "too small" an amount and therefore keeps people within poverty. 

We're trying to plug poverty and hunger and inequality and that can only be done through grants for those with little to no income, between the ages of 18 [and 59 years old]; so not just for everyone although we do want universality in the end.

But the thing is, there aren't jobs and so we can be scared about taxes, we can be scared about corruption, we can be scared about foreign nationals as they've been presented to us, but the fact of the matter is: there aren't jobs, people are hungry [and] grants alleviate poverty in the immediate.

Recipients of the SRD grant receive R350 per month, which is a small but significant lifeline for millions. 

The organization says that the SRD grant has helped to activate the informal sector, with people using it to feed themselves but also to start small businesses.

Research indicates that SRD grant beneficiaries are more likely to search for a job than if they didn't receive the grant, dispelling a common idea that the distribution of social grants discourages work.

Statistics SA yesterday showed that the number of people who have a formal job is now just under ten million. 

In order to keep social grants available and affordable for government, raising additional revenue through taxes is optional but difficult, due to the state of the economy.

Some have suggested that making changes to the education system may be the answer to our prayers regarding the inflexible labour market, to become more absorptive. 

One policymaker said: 

I would propose that we scrap our degrees...the way we look at the BA, BSc, etc., in the US and the UK they don't use that categorization.

Undergrad is a four-year General Degree; what this does when you come out of matric and you want to go into university, you don't have to decide then and there that you're going to be a scientist, therefore you do a BSc, and then two or three years into your BSc you realize 'this is not what I thought this degree is about, therefore I'm going to start all over again or I'm going to drop out'. 


Suggested Article:

SASSA grant payments

Millions of South Africans rely on social grants from the government to purchase basic goods and services every month. There are a few options which SRD grant beneficiaries can choose from to collect their grant payments. 




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