South African joblessness rises to 27.6%

SAFTU members demanding decent wages. 6.2 million people in South Africa are unemployed

SOUTH Africa’s unemployment rate has risen to its highest level since the third quarter of 2017 to 27.6% at the end of the first quarter of 2019, according to data released by Stats SA on Tuesday.

The number of employed people has decreased by 237,000 to 16.3 million in the first quarter of this year, while the number of those unemployed has increased by 62,000 to 6.2 million from the fourth quarter of 2018.

This came just days after the ANC won parliamentary elections with a reduced majority.

With a weak economy and other economic factors, there were concerns that the number of unemployed would increase.

Saftu (South African Federation of Trades Unions) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the employment rate could decline even further, warning on Monday: ‘Our economy has stagnated and it is declining.

‘We had load shedding and our industry is shrinking.

‘We expect more pressure on workers at SABC, SAA, Eskom and PetroSA to pay for all the sins they did not create.’

  • Energy Minister Jeff Radebe announced on Tuesday that he had removed the suspended director and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, Phumzile Tshelane.

In a brief statement, Radebe said he had taken the decision based on the ‘serious nature of the charges’ Tshelane is facing, along with a board resolution and a recommendation by a disciplinary panel.

His removal was effective May 11, he said.

‘The Necsa board will soon embark on the advertising and recruitment process to fill the vacant position in the board with individuals with appropriate skills and expertise to guide the company going forward and ensure sustainability and growth of the Necsa Group,’ Radebe said.

Radebe has previously flagged serious governance issues at Necsa.

In December, he replaced the entire board due to failures to exercise its fiduciary duties.

Necsa conducts research and development in the field of nuclear energy, radiation sciences and technology.

It is also responsible for uranium enrichment.

At a press conference at the time, Radebe said Tshelane had been placed on precautionary suspension and an investigation was underway into allegations of irregularities.

He said a disciplinary process would follow pending the initial investigation.

Radebe then said that Don Robertson, a former managing director of a subsidiary of Necsa, NTP, had been appointed interim CEO.

Meanwhile, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule has stood by his comment that it was the collective leadership and not just President Cyril Ramaphosa that led to the party’s victory at the polls.

This comes after a war of words between Magashule and the ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula after the secretary-general challenged the view that it was Ramaphosa who had led the ANC’s electoral success.

Magashule said it was the ANC’s leadership collective that led to election success.

However, he said there was no rift between him and the president.

‘We are working very well with the president of the ANC. Ramaphosa works as part of the collective.’

Magashule said the ANC national executive committee would ‘self-introspect’ and assess its election campaign.

Meanwhile, the president is due to announce his new Cabinet.

The move will most likely divide the ANC, according to at least one analyst.

The reconfiguration will also be informed by an investigation by Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who was tasked by Ramaphosa to look into the matter.

But what will the implications be on current Cabinet members, as well as those who have been a source of controversy?

Ridding Cabinet of those perceived to be in the Jacob Zuma faction will be one of Ramaphosa’s biggest headaches, according to political analyst Amanda Gouws.

‘Many of the Zuma loyalists and politicians, who were high on the list, clearly they made it to Parliament.

‘The scope they’ll give Ramaphosa to do what he wants to do remains to be seen.’

Ordinarily the Cabinet would include the leader of the ANC Women’s League, but that means Ramaphosa would have to include disgraced minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Her social development portfolio has been a source of embarrassment for government with uncertainty around Sassa payments, due to a contractual mess.

Gouws added that Ramaphosa had no choice but to appoint ‘people he can trust’.

‘If he’s committed to a clean government and doing away with the huge salaries, he needs to reduce that Cabinet and he needs to appoint people he can trust,’ she said.

  • COSATU statement on the National General Election outcomes 13 May 2019

‘The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates the ANC for winning the National General Elections and for retaining the eight provinces that were under its control before elections.

‘We applaud the millions of workers who campaigned and voted for the ANC in their numbers.

‘We are still calling on all those workers who were intimidated and victimised by their employers on election day and stopped from voting to come forward and report to COSATU. (Confederation of South African Trade Unions).

‘COSATU does not believe that we need to do another collective assessment to grasp the real message coming out from the people.

‘The reality is that the socio-economic conditions of the people in terms of unemployment, inequalities and poverty have worsened rather than improved despite some achievements by the government.

‘The people are angry because important and progressive policies that could help tackle our crisis, unemployment, inequality and poverty have been promised without being implemented after elections in the past.

‘The Federation is calling on the ANC leadership to stop the factional infighting and focus on firmly taking the reins of both the organisation and government.

‘The ANC needs to show firmness and decisiveness in dealing with indiscipline in the organisation and corruption in government and reposition the ANC and government to provide political and moral leadership to society.

‘The President needs to do that by appointing a Cabinet composed of people who are beyond reproach, and do away with the recycling of ministers. We cannot continue to tolerate mediocrity and incompetence.

‘The 8th of May 2019 must mark a turning point in the long trajectory of self-destruction of our movement, since 1996, towards a new path of a people-centred development trajectory and a disciplined movement.

‘The leadership needs to ensure the acceleration of the implementation of the manifesto priorities.

‘They need to start by effecting a shift in the macroeconomic policy framework in line with numerous ANC Conference resolutions.

‘Without a shift in the macroeconomic framework in line with the resolutions of Polokwane, Mangaung and Nasrec important policy advances outlined in the ANC Elections Manifesto will not materialise.

‘President Ramaphosa needs to abandon the indecisiveness and even retreat from some of the mandates of Polokwane, Mangaung and Nasrec if he is serious about job creation and economic transformation.

‘The Federation will do a thorough analysis of the election outcomes and a shift in the political sands at its upcoming Central Executive Committee meeting to be held at the end of the month.’