7 February 2013

South Africa: Mantashe Must Clarify the ANC Position On the Youth Wage Subsidy

press release

I met with a number of unemployed young people today. All these youths want is a chance to earn a living, and learn a trade. Yet they feel hopeless in the face of the odds that are stacked against them. Most have given up on looking for work, just like 87 000 other South Africans did in the last quarter of last year.

A DA government would implement a youth wage subsidy to provide more job opportunities to young people. Yet the ANC refuses to take a clear stand on this issue.

In the wake of the ANC's NEC Lekgotla last week, it was widely reported that the ANC would now support the implementation of the youth wage subsidy. This reporting seems to have stemmed from a statement by the secretary-general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, that the ANC now supports the implementation of "youth employment support and incentive schemes".

The youth wage subsidy is certainly the most prominent "youth employment support and incentive scheme" currently on the table. The DA has long advocated for this policy. We strongly support its immediate implementation.

But the ANC has also commented on the broad agreement between itself and COSATU on the matter of "youth employment support and incentive schemes". COSATU remains stubbornly opposed to the youth wage subsidy.

So which one is it? Does the ANC support the youth wage subsidy, or will they continue to appease COSATU by not implementing the subsidy? Mr Mantashe should come out and explicitly answer this question.

This kind of hedging from the ruling party is contributing to policy uncertainty and threatens investment and job creation.

Earlier this week, STATS SA released the quarterly labour force survey for the 4th of quarter of 2012 - and the results indicate the horrific impact government's lack of policy direction is having on the economy.

In the last three months of 2012 alone, 68 000 South Africans lost their jobs, and another 87 000 South Africans gave up on looking for work.

On top of that, we are faced with daily spats in the media between senior government leaders and business leaders, most notably in the mining industry.

This is the time for government and business to work together to get our economy back on track to create more jobs. Government must take the lead by clearly articulating pro-jobs and pro-growth economic policies. Scrapping the proposed hike in taxation on the mining industry, and implementing the youth wage subsidy would be two easy-wins for South Africans that could be implemented right now.

Mmusi Maimane, DA National Spokesperson

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