The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released today for the fourth quarter of 2009 (24.3% and 34.1% unofficially) demonstrates that President Zuma has failed dismally in his promise to create 500 000 new job opportunities by the end of last year. In fact, 267 000 jobs were lost during the second quarter of 2009 (April to June), during which time the Zuma administration was taking office. Then from July through to December, a further 395 000 jobs were lost. In total, then, under the Zuma administration about half a million jobs have been lost, and during the whole of 2009, the South African economy has shed 870,000 jobs.

Though the economic recession has, to be sure, played a significant role in slowing down South Africa’s economy, the figures released today demonstrate two things:

First, they bring into sharp relief the president’s claim that 500,000 job opportunities would be created by the end of the year. Instead, we have actually lost about that many jobs. This raises serious questions about either the ANC government’s inability to understand the employment ramifications of their policies, or the ANC government’s unwillingness to be honest with South Africans in their forecasts, or both.

Second, these figures are an indictment of the ANC government’s ability to respond to the task of creating jobs. In particular, it is clear-cut evidence of the failure of the ANC government’s much touted economic rescue plan in response to the global recession – the layoff training scheme. With R2.4 billion allotted for this project it was reported before Parliament in September last year that 12 of the 23 SETAs tasked with training retrenched workers has done noting in this regard.

The DA has said it in the past and we will say it again. The SETAs don’t work; instead, we need a system that incentivises on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

The Zuma administration’s misguided view of appropriate economic intervention and lack of political will to engage with economic problems are evident and yet again it is the country’s working class and poor that suffer the most because the ANC government is not making good on its promises.

Every unemployed South African adult is a potential breadwinner who can no longer provide for his or her family and the implications are far reaching. In fact, the embarrassment that Zuma is facing from his legion of extramarital offspring should be miniscule in relation to the damning reality that he is responsible for putting thousands of families in jeopardy.

It is therefore completely unacceptable that government is failing to respond while promising to do so. On the eve of the State of the Nation address by Zuma, the DA will be asking the President and the Minister of Labour why unemployment has been increasing at such a staggering rate – and what, if anything, will really be done about it.

Employment:

  • 2008 Q1: 13 623 000
  • 2008 Q2: 13 729 000 (+106 000)
  • 2008 Q3: 13 655 000 (- 74 000)
  • 2008 Q4: 13 844 000 (+189 000)
  • 2009 Q1: 13 636 000 (-208 000)
  • 2009 Q2: 13 369 000 (-267 000)
  • 2009 Q3: 12 885 000 (-484 000)
  • 2009 Q4: 12 974 000 (+89 000)

Employment Rates (Official, unofficial – including discouraged jobseekers)

  • 2008 Q1: 23.5% | 30.1%
  • 2008 Q2: 23.1% | 29.1%
  • 2008 Q3: 23.2% | 29.2%
  • 2008 Q4: 21.9% | 28.5%
  • 2009 Q1: 23.5% | 30.3%
  • 2009 Q2: 23.6% | 32.2%
  • 2009 Q3: 24.5% | 34.1%
  • 2009 Q4: 24.3% | 34.1%

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