Did you vote in the Municipal Elections?
You may have thought “Why bother?” or “What’s the use?” with lack of service delivery and a chart-topping 34.4% unemployment rate (the highest in the world!), but yours is a vote for impact.
With voter turnout at an all-time low of 45,87% nationally and 66 hung councils across the country – meaning no party has sufficient majority to rule – will service delivery and structural reform be doomed forever?
Do we attribute this poor turnout to simple voter apathy or complete surrender? Like the 5,9% increasingly discouraged work-seekers who have given up searching for employment?
Coalition governments are the talk of the town currently, but experts are doubtful as to their success. Historically, political posturing prevented co-operation and hampered the implementation of any meaningful mandate in municipalities such as Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane. Stalemates cause stagnation, which is not conducive to economic recovery or growth, let alone job creation.
According to the World Bank, if South Africa were to match the self-employment rates of its peers, it could potentially half its unemployment rate . In SA, self-employment represents only 10% of jobs compared with 30% in most upper middle-class countries such as Turkey, Brazil and Mexico.
We all want the same things – water, electricity, and gainful employment to buy food and shelter. Basically, the infrastructure and business-friendly policies that stimulate economic growth to deliver goods and services to our citizens. We need policies and programmes that carefully balance the imperatives of driving business with social redress to close the inequality gap, without compromising one or the other.
And therein lies the rub. Coalitions require similar priorities or ideologies and co-operation to succeed.
The Mid-Term Budget Policy Speech (MTBPS) , delivered on Thursday 11 November 2021, indicated national government’s priorities and policies to deliver on these imperatives. Amendments include reforms to address energy security, the corporatisation of Transnet to improve the efficiency of logistics infrastructure, as well as fast-tracking the 90-day application process for a single-use water license to facilitate ease of doing business, amongst others. He declined any further bailout funds for SOE’s and directed specific action to be taken by the 43 municipalities currently in financial crises, together with the further 100 still at risk.
Encouragingly, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recognised the importance of faster structural reforms to encourage private sector investment, critical for economic growth and job creation. He recognised that employment was lagging behind economic recovery which “requires more private sector jobs driven by a strong and growing investment climate” and allocated R74 billion towards public employment programmes. Currently, 27.8 million South Africans are social grant recipients, representing 46 percent of the population.
So, with voting over, what can we do individually, to collectively make a difference?
Never before has this been more urgent.
Vote for change directly in your personal sphere of influence:
• Use your Rands and Cents to make an impact and buy local. #Specify South Africa. South Africans spent $68 billion on imports in 2020 – a 21,8% decline from 2019 but every cent spent on imported products takes money away from our citizens.
• Buy local and help create jobs by sourcing products and services from our own citizens. Support the communities and businesses in your neighbourhood to keep our tax base healthy. Gross tax revenue for 2020/21 is expected to be 10.6 percent lower than the previous fiscal year and R213.2 billion lower than projected in the 2020 Budget.
• Provide training and expertise where possible to help uplift the quality of our goods and services
• Demand excellence by actively holding yourself, and your associates (including local government!) to account for the quality of goods and services
FloorworX is a local flooring manufacturer that employs 50 people at its East London-based plant.
Similar to many South African businesses, they are subject to standard labour laws, minimum wage, SABS certifications and constant electricity interruptions. Add corporate tax, government levies and anti-protectionist policies such as no import duties/tariffs on cheap imported alternatives (often from countries with unfair labour practices and sub-standard quality controls) and the urgency for structural and economic reform becomes quite evident.
The benefits of buying local are obvious: Employment opportunities, increased profitability and revenue collection, economic growth and prosperity, increased dignity and social security. Who wouldn’t want that? Specify SA. Everyone wins.
http://www.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=1854&PPN=P0277&SCH=72993P0277 – Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES), June 2021