OPINION

Stolen jobs for our disgruntled youth

Andrew Donaldson |

16 June 2022

Andrew Donaldson asks whether booting out Zimbabweans is all part of the govt’s ‘once-in-a-generation-effort’

A FAMOUS GROUSE

IT is Youth Day, and 46 long years have passed since the revolt sparked by protesting students in Soweto revitalised the struggle against apartheid. This year’s commemoration will be the 29th to have taken place in a democratic South Africa and still the “Youth of Today”, as this demographic has been lazily labelled, remain a mostly disgruntled bunch. 

Face it, theirs is not a happy lot, poised as they are, not on the brink of a future filled with opportunity and prosperity but one that has long since collapsed into a pit latrine. From whence they emerge each year at this time, sopping and befouled, for their customary rinse and lip servicing by a smug and cynical elite that could not even pretend to give a damn. 

Actually, no; that’s not strictly true. There is plenty of pretence—but nothing, sadly, in any convincing manner, shape or form.

Cyril Ramaphosa, for one, has perhaps conveniently announced what he has modestly termed a “Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme”. This is a thing, it says here, that will introduce reforms to create jobs for “millions of unemployed young people”. 

It is, moreover, a “once-in-a-generation effort”. Which begs an honest question: why was this “once-in-a-generation effort” not implemented one or two generations back? Or even a few years ago? After all, the alarm bells regarding unemployment have been ringing out for decades, and we now find ourselves in a situation where, according to Stats SA, youth unemployment is at 65 per cent. 

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That’s two out of every three youngsters without a job, a catastrophic situation that didn’t just happen overnight. Writing in his weekly open letter to the sheeple, Squirrel admits this is something of a problem:  ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

“No society can expect to grow or thrive when the vast majority of its young people are out of work. The economic reforms we are implementing, alongside measures such as an industrial policy to support labour-intensive growth sectors, aim to drive growth and expand private sector employment. However, we cannot simply wait for higher growth to create jobs, especially for young people.”

Fair enough. But then this line, which for all its pithiness, should chill the blood of thinking folk everywhere: “I hold the view that even as millions of people are unemployed, there is no shortage of work to be done to build a better South Africa.”

It reminds of me that old story—I think it was meant to be funny, but it isn’t really—about a man going from door to door, complaining that he is unemployed and hungry. A kindly soul takes pity on him. “Tell you what,” he says, “I’ll pay you to mow my lawn, and tidy up the yard.” Crestfallen, the man replies, “No, you don’t understand. I don’t want work, I want a job…”