Opposition parties in Limpopo are baying for premier Stan Mathabatha’s blood after the South African Quarterly Labour Survey showed that Limpopo recorded the highest job losses of any province in the last quarter of the last financial year.
The stats indicated that during the last three months of 2019, about 35,000 more people lost their jobs in Limpopo. To rub salt to into the wound, the stats also revealed that more than 77,000 people have since lost their jobs in the province last year – a move that sent shockwaves through the province.
The latest expanded unemployment rate, rose 2.1% to 44%.
The total Limpopo labour force was recorded at 1.821 million people and out of these, 391,000 individuals were unable to find work, while 531,000 persons have given up looking for a job altogether, revealed the stats.
The latest revelation has opened a big debate among political parties and individuals in the province.
The DA was the first to react, saying it was time for the ANC government in Limpopo to do introspection on the kind of service it provides.
“The bottom line is that people of Limpopo are becoming poorer, and the provincial economy is shrinking and excludes more and more people from accessing economic opportunities,” DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle said yesterday.
Smalle said the stats proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the people of Limpopo were faced with an acute bleak economic outlook. He said the stats were a direct result of the ANC government’s disastrous management of the economy.
“Under Premier Stan Mathabatha, the executive continues to spend state funds irregularly and recklessly, with impunity. This resulted in the province experiencing an acute unemployment rate, [more] than any province in the country. During the past 12 months, Limpopo’s unemployment rate increased by 6.6%, from 16.5% in October to December 2018, to 23.1% for the same period in 2019,” said Smalle.
“Job losses were experienced across all sectors, but the trade sector shed about 51,000 jobs during the last quarter. The trade sectors comprises mainly of the private sector and entrepreneurs.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters, the official opposition in the province, said it was time for Mathabatha’s executive to shape up or ship out.
“We cannot afford to be led by a government that takes jobs away from its people. Maybe it’s time for the EFF to be given time to show the ANC how it is done,” said EFF provincial secretary, George Raphela yesterday.
Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said the high unemployment was due to the fact that the province was still suffering from the “Bantustan era” and the many immigrants from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, who compete for the few available jobs in the agricultural sector.
“Government is the highest employment agency. But it must be borne in mind that we are a rural province wherein employment drivers continue to be agriculture and services,” said Mathivha. “We haven’t had adequate rains in the recent past and, therefore, seasonal agricultural jobs will soon be lost. That is why in the next few days possibilities are there that the province could be declared a disaster area.”