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Create jobs – there is no other option

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This is South Africa’s second recession in a decade

File image: IOL

WITH the debilitating levels of crime, unemployment is the greatest test that faces the Ramaphosa administration. So great is this challenge that it literally threatens the stability of this country.

The mantra that the government should therefore be chanting is “jobs, jobs, jobs”. Any other approach would be a case of fiddling while Rome burns.

With a sluggish economy, low growth and our recent downgrade to junk status – with the exception of Moody’s – South Africans now find themselves in a new national recession. Tuesday’s shock data released by Statistics SA show that our gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter shrank by 0.7%, piling more misery on the country after the first quarter showed a contraction of 2.2%, later upscaled to 2.6%.

This is South Africa’s second recession in a decade.

We simply cannot afford an economy that is declining, instead of expanding. The rest of Africa experiences high levels of economic growth despite their own internal troubles. Seeing that countries such as Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana grow faster than South Africa make us wonder what new, fantastic excuses will be offered to explain South Africa’s slump.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is clearly made of sterner stuff – he’s shrugged off these figures and promised that President Cyril Ramaphosa is going to unveil the government’s combat plan at the medium-term budget policy statement next month.

What we require is a long-term commitment by political leaders, one pursued with patience, perseverance, and pragmatism. The youth has been particularly hard hit by unemployment. And for jobs to be created, the economy needs to grow with more vigour and sustainability.

For this to happen, the government must create an environment conducive to investment. The oft-repeated observation that the government does not create jobs, but makes conditions friendly for job-creation has never been truer.

It will take hard work for South Africa to emerge from this round of recession. But if everyone puts their shoulders to the wheel, we will pull through.

There is no other option.