Eastern Cape still suffering Covid-19 pandemic jobs hangover

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
DA Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Legislature

The unemployment figures released today show the Eastern Cape is still suffering from a Covid-19 pandemic jobs hangover because the recovery for the province is far too slow.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey statistics, covering the period from October to December 2021, have revealed that the Eastern Cape’s unemployment dropped slightly from 47.4% to 45%, The expanded unemployment rate has also dropped slightly, from 54.5% to 53.2%.

While we welcome the slight decrease, it is still extremely concerning that the province has the worst unemployment rates in the country!

Worryingly, neither of the province’s metros nor rural unemployment statistics were made available in the report.

The job prospects for the new financial year are just as daunting, with no relief in sight. Rising food prices, general inflation and interest rate hikes are going to put people and businesses in this province under even more pressure.

The economic fallout of the Ukraine crisis is yet to be felt, especially in the local agricultural sector, as rising fuel prices and fertiliser shortages drive up production costs, while exports of products such as citrus suffer.

I recently tabled a motion in the Eastern Cape Legislature calling for an economic impact assessment of the impact that the war in Ukraine will have on the province so that government can make informed decisions to try and mitigate these.

The government needs to do more if we are to break free of this jobs crisis.

We cannot afford to be giving back R205 million in grant funding for Education infrastructure projects. This money could have funded thousands of local construction jobs!

We cannot afford to have municipalities with crumbling infrastructure that are incapable of providing basic services such as water and electricity. Without good governance, businesses will leave and take jobs with them.

Nor can we afford to give back R67 million in Social Relief of Distress grant funding, when we have the worst levels of unemployment in the country!

The government needs to give leadership if it is to create the environment for businesses to stay, invest and create jobs so people can live a life of value.