JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
AT THE end of last month, The Economist published an article about South Africa’s economy. In it, they wrote “THERE is little in the way of bright news about South Africa’s economy—and not just because power cuts are plunging neighborhoods into darkness several times a week. According to figures released on May 26th, annual GDP grew by a mere 1.3% in the first three months of this year, a crawl compared with the 4.1% achieved in the fourth quarter of 2014. Unemployment is soaring. Even using a narrow definition, it stands at 26.4%, the highest since 2003.”
These are discomforting statistics – that should frighten most South Africans, given the socioeconomic challenges we face. And given the fact that we do have potential to do much better than this.
We are in a crisis – one that politicians always underestimate in order to safeguard their political jobs.
The data is supposed to drive us all nuts and encourage us to take drastic actions to reverse the current trend. But I don’t think South Africans have the will to change the direction of this country.
For the fact that they continue to support left-wing policies that have pulverized our economy, that alone shows that we still have a long way to go to get things right.
“Even by the ANC’s own standards, it is failing: only 2% growth is expected in 2015 when the economy needs to expand by at least 5% a year to reduce unemployment.
Yet instead of addressing the economic crisis when he appeared in parliament soon after the poor numbers, Mr Zuma cracked jokes and mimicked the leader of the opposition, giggling: “he he he…hai”.”, The Economist concluded its article.
In this article, The Economist was frank and unequivocal – South Africa’s economy is trapped in a mess – one that the ruling party, the African National Congress, clearly cannot pull us out of.
It’s not surprising, in my opinion, that unemployment rose in the first quarter of this year to 26.4%. This is the price we are paying for the very hostile environment we’ve created for employers.
The policies supported by left-wingers, such as sectoral minimum wages have made it very difficult for employers to hire – which has resulted in millions of low-skilled South Africans denied the opportunity to find employment and earn income. Thousands are currently losing their jobs due to the anemic economy and union strikes, especially in the mining sector, that cost mining businesses millions of rands.
Another article by the Financial Times, also published last month, detailed South Africa’s massive continuing job losses in the mining sector. 35000 jobs have been lost in two years. The newspaper cites labor unrest, rising costs and weak commodity prices as the cause of the job-losses.
This is a blow to South Africa’s economy – where millions remain unemployed and hopeless. It is a situation that will cause serious damage to our society for many years to come. The worst part of the news, is that these mining businesses will continue shedding jobs in future.
Companies like Lonmin and Harmony are expected to cut thousands of jobs in an attempt to slash labor costs. Some of their mining operations may be shutdown.
I’m not astonished by the news of this type. The union strikes that lasted for months in 2014 were seriously damaging and cost us billions. I spoke loudly against the violent wage demands by unions, but most people never listened. Because I knew that the outcome will be job losses, and the suffering of many.
I used social networks to spread the message, and, unfortunately I was vilified and insulted. I was called a white person when I engaged my friends who said “It’s either these employers pay this money or they get out of this country.” I was told I hate black people and that I do not care about workers. A lot of what they said was painful, to be honest.
I wasn’t against workers negotiating their wages with employers. They have a right to do so. If one is unhappy with his wage, then he should discuss the issue with his employer, and ask for a raise. If he’s not happy with the raise, then he should update his resume and look for a job that pays a higher wage.
What I objected to, and even today still object to, was the idea that employers should be forced to meet the demands of the workers. I find it unfortunate that, it seems, this thinking prevails in South Africa.
We are in a difficult situation – one that will not go away anytime soon. It’s South Africans themselves who should take the first step to improving their economy. And I think the first thing they should do, is to reject their left-wing ideology that’s been destroying this country since the end of apartheid. The ever-expanding government has done too much damage to this economy, and sadly, continues to do so.
Pro-market figures like Leon Louw and Themba Nolutshungu, both of the Free Market Foundation, Frans Cronje of the Institute of Race Relations, are reviled for speaking against the expensive ever-expanding South African government, socialist policies that have resulted in Eskom’s failure to keep the lights on, and labor unions, whose actions have resulted in massive job losses we hear about today.
I just hope this time, as the crisis deteriorates, South Africans will shape up their thinking. PM
© PHUMLANI M. MAJOZI