23 May 2018

Swaziland: Govt Issues Misleading Jobless Figures

The Swaziland Government is misleading people about the rate of unemployment in the impoverished kingdom.

Media reported on Tuesday (22 May 2018) an announcement from Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula that the number of people with jobs was now 288,044 from a current labour force of 373,869. The figures, the Times of Swaziland reported her saying, were based on a 2016 survey. They were an improvement on 2013/14 figures, she said. If correct, this means 85,825 people were unemployed.

The Times reported she said, 'I would like to take this opportunity to applaud all stakeholders that worked hand in hand with government to provide more jobs in the kingdom. We are highly grateful that the employment rate has been increased by five per cent.'

But, the figures are inconsistent with another issued by the Swazi Government. In October 2016 - the same year as the just-published survey - the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs reported 280,000 or 42.6 percent of the 668,000 people aged between 18 and 24 were unemployed.

The latest CIA Factbook on Swaziland puts the 2016 unemployment rate in the kingdom at 28 percent, but says the labour force was estimated to be 427,900. That would make the number of unemployed 119,812, or nearly 34,000 more than the government count.

Seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day.

In a 2015 survey by Afrobarometer reported that one in two Swazis (53 percent) said that unemployment was one of the most important issues government should address, compared to 42 percent in 2013 who stated the same. Education (23 percent), poverty (23 percent), water supply (22 percent), infrastructure/roads (19 percent ), health (18 percent ) and corruption (17 percent) were the top seven issues Swazi people said they wanted government to prioritise.


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