SA must look to Africa – MPL

THE Democratic Alliance’s new economic plan would change the Eastern Cape’s dire employment picture, said DA provincial MPL Bobby Stevenson.

Stevenson was reacting to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) report released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.

According to the QLFS, the Eastern Cape lost 11 000 jobs in the second quarter of this year compared to the same quarter of last year, putting its official unemployment rate at 28.6%.

The expanded definition of unemployment that includes discouraged workers, paints a bleaker picture with 46.4% unemployment.

The province’s official unemployment rate was above the national rate of 24.9% in the same quarter.

Stevenson said this indicated the ruling party had not made a dent in reducing the province’s high unemployment.

The government’s plan is to create five million jobs by 2020, with 500 000 in the Eastern Cape “on a purely proportional basis”, according to Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

“The president said this was the year of jobs, but we have gone backwards,” said Stevenson.

“Jobs are not created fast enough to reduce unemployment.”

While the province’s manufacturing sector employment recorded no change from the first to the second quarter of this year, employment in the sector decreased to 158 000 compared to 171 000 in the second quarter of 2011. The country exports 31% of its products to Europe, which is in the grip of a sovereign debt crisis.

Stevenson said South Africa could turn around its persistently high unemployment if it shifted trade focus towards high-growth markets in African countries.

The official opposition unveiled its new economic plan last Saturday, claiming it would boost economic growth to over 8% per year.

Stevenson said the DA’s new economic plan was “absolutely realistic” and could tackle unemployment.

He said a DA government would provide tax incentives to the East London and Coega Industrial Development Zones (IDZs) to attract industry on a large cale.