South Africa says unemployment has reached its highest level in a decade at 29%. Second-quarter figures released Tuesday show the number of unemployed rose by 573,000 over the past year, with only 21,000 jobs created.
It is the latest grim report for Africa’s most developed economy, which in May announced that growth had dropped by the most in a decade during the first quarter.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration is under public pressure to turn around the economy and clean up corruption. That dissatisfaction led to the worst election showing in 25 years for Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress in May.
But that has not been forthcoming and all we have had so far has been political bickering. The ruling party is more concerned about the politics of power than the health of the economy. That is why these figures were not necessarily unexpected.
The unemployment numbers were released on the same day that South Africa’s struggling state-owned power utility Eskom announced losses of more than 20 billion rand ($1.4 billion) last fiscal year.
Eskom supplies about 95% of the country’s electricity and is at the center of Ramaphosa’s efforts to rid state-owned enterprises of corruption and mismanagement.
When Ramaphosa won election in May “we expected a solid emergency plan to address the economic challenges and these unemployment challenges,” Lumkile Mondi, an economics lecturer at Witwatersrand University, told The Associated Press.
“But that has not been forthcoming and all we have had so far has been political bickering. The ruling party is more concerned about the politics of power than the health of the economy. That is why these figures were not necessarily unexpected,” Mondi said.
The ruling ANC faces an internal struggle between allies of Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma, who led South Africa from 2009 to 2018 when he resigned under party pressure amid corruption allegations and was replaced by his former deputy Ramaphosa.