South Africa

Ramaphosa’s big job creation lie

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claim that 1.5 million jobs have been created since 2021 is misleading, as fewer South Africans have jobs now than two years ago.

In his 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA), Ramaphosa said, “between the third quarters of 2021 and 2022, around one and a half million new jobs were created in our economy”.

However, looking at the number of employed persons in South Africa since 2017 reveals that the president’s statement hides important information.

The most important observation is that the number of employed persons is still significantly lower than pre-Covid levels. It is even lower than in 2017.

The data shows that South Africa has lost a significant number of jobs over the last three years – something which was not mentioned in the SONA.

To say that 1.5 million jobs have been created since 2021 is misleading, as these jobs were lost in 2020 and have merely been regained.

Even more telling is that South Africa performed significantly worse than other emerging market economies with high unemployment rates.

Apart from South Africa, the three countries with the highest unemployment rates on the MSCI emerging markets index are Greece, Brazil, and Columbia.

All of these countries have at least reached pre-pandemic levels in the number of employed persons. Greece and Brazil far exceeded their pre-Covid levels.

On a historical and comparative level, South Africa is severely underperforming in the employment realm.

Commenting on the 2023 SONA, Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt said that South Africans are wasting their time listening to the address.

He said that the ANC is stumbling from one crisis to the next and that what happens in practice compared to what the president says is completely different. 

He added that even though unemployment did recover somewhat, it is still at extremely high levels.

“The South African economy has made no progress, and the current government does not have the capacity and the will to implement the policies that would grow the economy,” he said.


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