Thousands of jobs were shed over the last two years with businesses shut down due to the lockdown measures. Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has warned that the jobs bloodbath will continue if the economy does not pick up.
EMPLOYMENT and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has warned that the jobs bloodbath will continue if the economy does not pick up. He said the economy was already in the doldrums before the lockdown was implemented last year.
Thousands of jobs were shed over the last two years with businesses shut down due to the lockdown measures.
Nxesi, who was replying to oral questions during the passing of the budget, said the issue of unemployment was not the issue of one department.
He said when the economy was starting to pick up, the July riots broke out in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
That had a bearing on the economy as more people lost their jobs.
Thousands of businesses were destroyed in the two provinces and R50 billion lost in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Nxesi said adding salt to the wound was the Omicron variant that threatens to strangle the economy.
He said they were also discussing the issue of mandatory vaccines to ensure the economy was not shut down.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a task team to look at the issue of compulsory vaccines.
Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said the recommendations of the task team had not yet been tabled.
Nxesi said the issue of unemployment was a sore point in government.
“You would know that we have been talking about the issue of unemployment. The issue of unemployment is not the issue of a department. It is the issue of the economy as a whole. You know where we are coming from, where our economy has been going down prior to the pandemic. You know what the pandemic has done, the decline in the GDP of about 7%. You know what has happened when we were trying to recover, there was violence and so on which a lot of jobs were lost,” said Nxesi.
“We are now sitting with the Omicron variant which is giving us problems. We are debating even the issue of vaccines so that the economy cannot be closed. What we want to emphasise is that we will continue to lose jobs if the economy continues to go down. But we will be able to gain jobs if the economy continues (to grow).
“I want to refer you to a document called the economic recovery plan which was launched last year by the President, which talks about areas for job creation, public infrastructure development, the issue of ensuring energy security, industrialisation, localisation, the mass employment programmes, which we have talked about, particularly for the youth, women and people with disabilities. We have talked about macro economic interventions, enablers of growth, the green economy and we are talking about reviving the tourism sector,” said Nxesi.