Douglas Gibson | 10 December 2021Douglas Gibson says the ANC may care, but it is incapable of fixing the problem
The day the majority of voters wake up to the truth that unemployment is the fault of ANC policy is the day when the ANC will finally be slung out of power.
ANC support has dropped to 46.5%, but many voters – many unemployed – still fondly believe the ANC’s heart is in the right place. They think the government really does want to create jobs and solve the unemployment problem. Remember the winning slogan in 1994: “Jobs, jobs, jobs”?
The narrow unemployment rate is 34.9% but broad unemployment, including those who have given up job-seeking, is 46.4%. The unbelievable figure for youth between 15-24 is 77.4%. What a miserable record of failure. The ANC should have been thrown out of office years ago.
While the government seems to care, it is incapable of fixing the problem. It is so fixated on outdated, failed policies originating in Europe in the last century, that it simply cannot junk and look for new ones to solve the problem. What level of unemployment must be reached before the ANC wakes up? It will certainly never do so while it is the government; only when it has a few years in opposition will it design new, fresh policies that could work. Meanwhile, the misery, the hopelessness, the helplessness, especially among the young, grows with each passing year.
The leader of the opposition, John Steenhuisen, recently made an important speech, telling South Africa that we do not have to continue being a failure. He flung down the gauntlet to those who have previously not voted for his party, proposing steps that will result in growth and jobs.
The proposals include:
Arresting the instigators of the July riots to emphasise that the Rule of Law will be upheld at all costs.
Running extensive vaccination campaigns and ensuring vaccinations accessible for everyone while making it clear that there will be no further economy-killing lockdowns.
Relentlessly rooting out corruption by firing corrupt public servants, capacitating the NPA and re-introducing the Scorpions.
Restructuring the national budget away from managerial salaries and waste and towards service delivery, infrastructure like water, electricity and transport, as well as social support for the poor.
Appointing public servants on their ability to serve the public.
Opening the energy market and allowing competent metros and municipalities to generate their own power or buy direct from independent producers.
Enabling cheap, safe, reliable public transport.
Removing obstacles to digital migration and spectrum auction.
Opening the labour market, thus enabling small business creation and success and also determining that collective bargaining applies only to those who sign up to agreements.
Making South Africa an easy place to do business in by removing unnecessary red-tape and by ensuring that it is easy and attractive for scarce skills and investment to enter and stay in this country.
Enabling high and medium-density housing close to economic opportunities.
Scrapping investment-killing policies such as EWC, BEE, NHI, the Mining Charter and localisation.
Properly training, incentivising and independently evaluating school principals and teachers.
The challenge is now to other political parties, especially the ANC, to criticise the DA proposals and to come forward with better policies – and action – so that we start demonstrating that South Africans are serious about the jobs crisis and are determined to move beyond platitudes towards action. Idle promises about “Jobs, jobs, jobs” may have lulled the electorate into a false sense of security over the past generation. That time has now passed.
Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in The Star