TIME FOR SA’s GOVERNMENT TO START LISTENING

Published:25 Sep, 2011


The FMF published an article more than a year ago saying that it was crisis time in South Africa. The country’s greatest crisis lies in the large-scale unemployment that is causing havoc in the lives of millions of people. The situation has not improved. In fact, it is being made worse by deliberate actions that result in more people being unemployed.

Almost a decade ago the FMF suggested that the simplest and most effective way to reduce unemployment is to exempt unemployed people from the restrictions of the labour laws so as to allow them to find jobs for themselves. We have kept repeating this proposal, which would entail issuing exemption certificates that would free the unemployed from the labour law barrier but would leave the job security intact of people who already have jobs; a win-win solution.

A change of attitude is needed on the part of all who are blocking the unemployed from getting jobs. Do they have no compassion for those who are desperate and destitute? Do they have no pity for those who live in poverty and misery? Do they not realise how dangerous it is when desperation and frustration boil over?

There is a grave danger of civil unrest when more than 6 million of the total potential workforce of 19 million has been unemployed for a long time. Government needs to take swift action to avoid unrest and the serious harm it could cause to innocent people.

Underlying the complaints about service delivery and lack of housing is the fact that most of the protestors are unemployed. Amidst the placards about service delivery there are always demands for jobs. Many of the problems of the protestors would disappear if they could only get jobs; any jobs where they can learn skills and recover their self-esteem.

Being without work and being unable to get a job, month after month, year after year, destroys the self-worth of the individual. The people know instinctively that something is badly wrong but can’t understand why there is zero demand for their labour.

Government policies aimed at addressing the unemployment problem have done very little to improve matters. The unemployment figures remain depressingly high and there appears to be an alarming lack of urgency in the Department of Labour, which is the department that must take responsibility for the current situation.

Official proposals for reducing unemployment amount to mere tinkering and will clearly not meet the government’s own target of 5 million jobs added in 10 years. The proposals will not provide a lasting solution, if any at all. Taking into consideration the young people who will leave school in the next decade, the real target should be double what the government has set for itself. Imposing an increasing burden on taxpayers so as to make higher welfare payments or create make-work jobs in the public sector, or even to increase the size of the public sector, is self-defeating; it simultaneously destroys jobs and potential jobs in the wealth-generating private sector. It also whets the appetite of welfare recipients to demand more.

In trying to solve the unemployment problem, government would do well to give searching attention to the anti-business bias that appears to exist in certain sectors of its administration. Officials must realise that it is the private sector of the economy that will have to provide the millions of jobs that are needed to change South Africa into a nation of working people. It is the private sector that provides the taxes that pay their own salaries, the same private sector that in the final analysis pays all salaries, including those of all elected politicians through to the President of the country. Put plainly and simply the private sector is the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Given that the livelihoods of the entire nation are dependent on the efficient functioning of the private sector it is astonishing to observe the malice it often faces from its beneficiaries. Business people are portrayed as the bad guys and their beneficiaries as the good guys, which is a strange way for beneficiaries to behave. What must be recognised is that the malice and distrust displayed towards the people who not only pay everyone’s salaries but also provide them with the goods and services they need in their daily lives, has a destructive dimension that imposes a cost on everyone in the country, not least on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Part of the solution to the unemployment problem requires a major change of attitude on the part of the government and its officials. A good start would be to deliberately work towards placing South Africa in the top ten of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index (currently 34th) and in the top 40 of the Economic Freedom of the Word Index (currently 82nd). The first step would be to stop increasing the burdens on business; to stop smothering them with costly regulations and then to review all regulations with a view to stripping those away that impose costs with little or no benefit. Every unnecessary cost imposed on the private sector either destroys existing jobs or prevents the creation of new jobs.

Solving the problem is simple in theory but obviously politically very difficult, otherwise there would not still be millions of unemployed people wondering where their next meal will come from. When the demand for labour increases, unemployment will decline, and when the demand for labour becomes huge, the decline in unemployment will be huge.

A change in attitude towards the private sector must be accompanied by a change in attitude towards the unemployed. First and foremost, the right of the unemployed must be respected to make their own decisions about what wages and working decisions are acceptable to them. They will take the best jobs they can find and it is malicious for outsiders, whatever their intentions might be, to step in and prevent them from doing so. The dispute over low wages in the Newcastle clothing factories has provided a graphic example of the callousness of intervening in the right of workers to make their own decisions about their own affairs. President Zuma’s call for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs must incorporate recognition of the fact that to the unemployed a Job is a Job, is a Job is better than nothing at all.

The solution that is offered by our proposed Job Seeker’s Exemption Certificate is one that will disturb the existing labour dispensation as little as possible, yet allow a massive number of extra real jobs to be created. It would radically reduce the number of men and women forced into resorting to crime or the shame of prostitution out of desperation as the only means of maintaining themselves and their children.

It is time for government to start listening. They have to do something before an unstoppable tsunami hits us all.

Temba A Nolutshungu is a director of the Free Market Foundation. This article is syndicated by AfricanLiberty.org

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Niger To Hand Over Scores Of Boko Haram Militants To ICC- President Issoufou

The Niger Government has arrested scores of Boko Haram militants and will hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial, President Mahamadou Issoufou, has said. This is contained in a document from the World Humanitarian Summit, ongoing in Istanbul, Turkey, made available to reporters in New York. The document said Mr. Issoufou made this known on Tuesday during a high-level leaders’ round table titled “Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity”. He...

Trump, Johnson Kiss In EU Referendum Mural

A giant mural showing Donald Trump passionately kissing Boris Johnson has appeared on the side of a building in Britain, one month before its referendum on EU membership. The mural shows the likely US Republican presidential nominee and the former mayor of London — both populists intent on shaking up their countries’ political establishments — locking lips. Trump is cradling Johnson’s shock of blond hair in his hand. The mural in Bristol, southwest England,...

FG Saves N185bn From IPPIS, Gets Rid Of 65,000 Ghost Workers

The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah says the Federal Government has saved over N185 billion since the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). Abah said this while presenting the ``Status Report of Reforms” at a five-day Specialised Reforms/SERVICOM Training Programme in Abuja on Tuesday. He said a lot of remarkable reforms had taken place in the civil service, including removal of 65,000 ghost workers from IPPIS.

EFCC Declares Omisore Wanted

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared wanted a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore. The EFCC said this on its official Facebook page on Tuesday. The commission said Omisore allegedly received N700m from a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) The anti-graft agency said Omisore had been evading arrest for several months and it thus had no choice but to declare...

Boko Haram: Air Force To Kit Unmanned Vehicles With Weapon Systems

As the Military pushes into the Sambisa Forest enclave of Boko Haram terrorists’, the Nigerian Air Force said on Tuesday that it has intensified efforts to get its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fitted with missile guided weapon systems for combat roles. The Chief of Army Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar made this known on Tuesday at a meeting with the management of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA). According to Abubakar, the Air Force...

FG Appoints New Prisons’ Boss

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr Ahmed Ja’afaru as the new Controller-General of the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS). This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Bassey Akpanyung, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja. Until his appointment, Ja’afaru was an Assistant Controller General of Prisons and was serving at the Prisons Headquarters in Abuja. NAN reports...

FG To Begin Cash Transfers To 30% Poor- Uwais

The Special Adviser on Social Investments in the office of the vice president, Maryam Uwais, yesterday said the federal government would soon begin conditional cash transfers to poor families to ease hardship. Speaking during a workshop on Child Poverty and Social Protection in West and Central Africa at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja yesterday, she noted that 30% of the poor in every state and local government would be catered for while the figure would be...

Court Orders IG To Arrest PDP’s Acting Chairman

A Federal High Court in Lagos has directed the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase to arrest anybody who parades ‘himself or herself’ as the  acting chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) pending the determination of a suit before it. Justice Ibrahim Buba who gave the order insisted that the order earlier issued by the court must be obeyed. The  court had earlier  granted an order stopping the convention of the party.

How Shekau’s Bodyguard Killed Boko Haram’s Chief Bomb Maker

The Nigerian Army monday confirmed the death of Boko Haram’s chief bomb maker and a high-ranking terrorist. This is just as a video was released showing the gruesome scene of how female terrorists are tasked with slaughtering women captives in parts of Sambisa forest in the North-east. Army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, disclosed this in a statement, confirming that the killing of the sect’s bomb maker happened in the early hours of Monday.

Tagging All Herdsmen Criminals Can Split Nigeria – Fulani Group

The Jonde Jam Fulani Youth Association has said there is a conspiracy to tag all Fulani herdsmen across the country as criminals, warning that such a move will affect the unity of the nation. The National President of the group, Saidu Maikano who spoke to journalists in Jos, the Plateau State capital, said though there were some criminal elements among the herdsmen, it was unacceptable to tag all herdsmen criminals, especially in the South-South and South...

FG Plans Dialogue With Militants To End Pipeline Vandalism – Lai Mohammed, Kachikwu

The Minister for Information and Culture with the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Monday, said the Federal Government is considering opening a robust dialogue with the Niger-Delta militants on the need to stop militancy in the oil rich region.   The duo who spoke in an interactive session with a coalition of civil societies in Lagos, chaired by Dr. Moses Ilo, founder of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, stressed that nefarious activities of militants is currently sabotaging...

I’m Not On Exile- Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed a report that he is on exile in Cote d’Ivoire. The report, published yesterday by a national newspaper, claimed that Dr. Jonathan had been given asylum in that Francophone country. His associates were alarmed at the report. But Dr. Jonathan yesterday said it was all false. He said on the phone: “I’m not on exile. I have no cause to go on exile. It is a wicked and malicious report.

Fuel Price To Fall Soon, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday assured Nigerians that the price of petrol, which was recently increased from N86.50 to N145 per litre would soon reduce. Mr. Osinbajo, who was addressing a cheering crowd of supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, was representing President Muhammadu Buhari during a two-day working visit to Lagos. Mr Buhari announced on Sunday that he would be represented by Mr Osinbajo.

Apologise, Refund N10bn Wasted On PDP Convention, APC Tells Wike

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has been told to apologise and refund the N10 billion from the State coffers which he wasted on last Saturday’s inconclusive National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).   The State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) made the demand in a statement signed by its Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, and issued on Tuesday in Port Harcourt.   Rivers APC said: “The well advertised PDP National Convention in Port Harcourt has come and gone...

Desmond Tutu’s Daughter Loses Church License After Gay Marriage

Desmond Tutu’s daughter has been forced to give up her duties as a priest in South Africa’s Anglican church after she married a woman, she told AFP on Tuesday. Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-van Furth can no longer preside at Holy Communion, weddings, baptisms or funerals after handing in her license because the church does not recognize gay marriage. She said her father, the retired archbishop and celebrated anti-apartheid campaigner, was “sad but not surprised” at the...

Borno Emirs Return Home Two Years After Fleeing Boko Haram Insurgency

Two out of the five Borno emirs forced to flee their domain by Boko Haram terrorists, have returned to their palaces. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the emirs fled to Maiduguri two years ago when the insurgents took control of their domain in Askira/Uba Local Government Area of the state. The insurgents took control of the area in August 2015 and announced establishment of Caliphate rule, forcing residents including the emirs to flee. The insurgents were however...

PDP Suffering From Past Mistakes – Doyin Okupe

Former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has stated that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is going through crisis because the party failed to prepare for life after power. He also said the PDP is suffering from mistakes of the past. Okupe who was a guest on Channels Television breakfast programme yesterday said failure on the part of the leaders of the PDP has further deepened the crisis rocking the party. He said, “The crisis...

Family Of Electrocuted UNILAG Student Gets N45m Compensation

The family of Oluchi Anekwe, a 300-level student of Accounting in the University of Lagos, who was electrocuted by a live wire on the school premises, has been paid N45m as compensation. A source said that the money was paid after the Eko Electricity Distribution Company reached a non-disclosure agreement with the victim’s family. Oluchi, a first class student of UNILAG, was electrocuted at about 7pm in September 2015, while returning from an evening mass with her younger sister. Oluchi had reportedly...

FG Saves N220bn Through Integrated Payroll System

The Federal Government on Tuesday said it had recorded a savings of about N220bn since April 2007 when it commenced the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System. A statement from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, said that the amount is expected to increase when other agencies of government are enrolled into the platform. The IPPIS is one of the Federal Government’s reform initiative conceived to transform the Nigerian public service aimed at improving the management...

Lagos To Introduce Water Kiosks

The Group Managing Director, Lagos Water Corporation, Mr. Muminu Badmus, says the government has designed water distribution kiosks across the state to bridge the shortfall in water supply and connect more residents to the central water system operated by the government. According to him, residents will be able to buy potable water at a cheaper price from vendors operating the kiosks. Badmus said this at the inauguration of the Mosan Okunola Waterworks at the Abesan Housing Estate, Abesan. He explained that the...

Court Declares PDP Caretaker Committee Illegal

Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos has declared as invalid the caretaker committee constituted over the weekend to take over the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party from its acting National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff. The judge, in a ruling on Monday, directed the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to enforce his order, barring the members of the constituted caretaker committee from taking over the affairs of the party. Details later…