The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey statistics, released today, show the devastating impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economy of the Eastern Cape.
Although the provincial unemployment figure has improved slightly, from 40.5% to 36.9%, these figures have been skewed, as Stats SA excludes those who have given up looking for work from the official unemployment rate.
It is the expanded unemployment rate that shows the true devastation that has hit the province, and indeed the country. The Eastern Cape now has an expanded unemployment rate of 52,8%, up from 48,9% in the first quarter, and is the worst performing province in the country.
It has become a jobs slaughterhouse. The situation has become so dire, that people have given up all hope of being employed and have simply stopped looking for work.
There are now more people unemployed than those who have jobs in the province. This has wreaked havoc among families, who are now struggling to put food on the table, pay for medication and schooling, amongst others.
This is compounded by collapsing municipalities and widespread corruption. The Eastern Cape has been one of the epicentres of the virus, of corruption and is now the epicentre of unemployment.
This is in sharp contrast to the neighbouring DA-run Western Cape, which has an unemployment rate of just 16,6%, and expanded unemployment rate of 27,3%.
Provincial Government needs to provide urgent economic support to businesses to stop further job losses and save the livelihoods of the people of this province.
The Democratic Alliance believes savings of over R1 billion can be found from the existing provincial budget, by slashing non-core expenditure and redirecting these funds to bolster the economy.
Government also needs to ensure that they are paying suppliers within 30 days, so small businesses don’t go bankrupt.
The provincial anti-corruption council must start meeting and take action to clean up the province and deal particularly with the Covid-19 looters.
This will create the right climate for investment in our province.