Eastern Cape unemployment shock on the cards if drastic action not taken

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
DA Leader in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

Eastern Cape expanded unemployment figures could soar close to 60% if the current Covid-19 level three lockdown measures are kept in place.

Government policies are driving the people of the Eastern Cape into abject poverty, by taking away people’s rights to earn a living. A capable state would actively balance the need to save lives against the need to save livelihoods.

Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, needs to urgently engage with the national coronavirus command council to request the relaxing of lockdown regulations. We will raise this matter at the next extended Provincial Command Council meeting.

The current Level 3 restrictions are having a direct impact across several economic sectors, including the tourism, entertainment and travel industries. Based on a recent Moneyweb report, the current lockdown measures have placed over 109,000 additional jobs in the province at risk.

This could see the Eastern Cape’s expanded unemployment rate soar close to 60%, up past the already devastating 51.2% reported in Q3 of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.

In comparison, the current active cases of Covid-19 in the province have dropped from over 10,000 at the peak of the second wave, to 3,222 as at 26 January.

Nelson Mandela Bay’s active cases have dropped from over 4,000 when it was declared a hotspot, to just 322 active cases, as at 25 January.

The government needs to take immediate steps to open our economy and allow these sectors to renew trading before it is too late. This includes removing Nelson Mandela Bay’s hotspot status, and lifting the ban on beaches, to encourage tourism.

There needs to be some relief to alcohol sales, so that at the very least, restaurants can serve alcohol with meals.

Along the same vein, the curfew in place needs to be amended, to allow evening trade.

If we are to attract investment and grow our economy, we need to build a capable state in this province. A capable state is one which creates the right environment for the private sector to operate and create jobs.