Unemployment is the major issue among young South Africans ahead of next week’s election, a BBC poll suggests. The problem of youth unemployment is evidently traceable to most parts of the African continent. Just like it is seen in Nigeria, the problem has been given political undertone in other countries. One of the continent’s great countries, South Africa could not escape from the result of the problem as it planned for its latest election.
The BBC reports that shortly before its election, South African youths have begun expressing displeasure over the rate of youth unemployment in the country Nearly half of the 1,600 people polled on South African instant messaging application Mxit said jobs were their biggest concern.
Education was the second most popular issue, mentioned by a quarter of respondents. This was followed by basic services, on 11%. The 7 May election is the first time that those born after the end of apartheid will be able to vote nationally.
The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says that while local headlines are frequently dominated by stories of violent protests calling for provision of basic services and a lot of attention is paid to crime, corruption and the large numbers of South Africans with HIV, this shows that the most pressing daily concern for people on the ground is the economy.
Almost a quarter of all South Africans are jobless with the unemployment rate around 24% in 2014 up on 1994 20%, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations.
Narnia Bohler Muller from the Human Social Research Council says 50% of young people who have left school in South Africa are unemployed. “South Africa is now third in the world, after Greece and Spain, when it comes to youth unemployment,” she adds.
Twenty-five-year-old Lionel Dick lives in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, and has been unemployed for five years. “I live with 13 people in a four bedroom house and no one is employed,” he told the BBC.
Some of the young people from the area speak on the issue: the first to speak among them was Syanda Msomi, 26, Gauteng: “I am not happy at all. I am unemployed with a matric school leaving certificate. But since I left school, I really can’t find any long-term jobs.
I wanted to work in administration but there are only temporary jobs that last for two or three months.
I don’t see any change in rural areas like where I live in Winterveldt. There is no shopping centre, there’s nothing.
I live with my grandmother and my four younger siblings. We buy 25 litres thet is 5.5 gallons of water for one rand. 1 US cent; 5.5 pence a day to drink, to bathe, and wash.
Our government does not care about the people. All the politicians do is tell us to vote but for what? I won’t vote as long as I still don’t benefit from the government.
Another Sounth African adds: “I’m a father of four children, and we live in a house with a grandmother and other family members who are also looking for work.”
“I’m skilled in many trades including plumbing, but we survive on the private jobs I do once a week or twice a month. it’s a struggle.” Syanda Msomi speaks further about the situation as pertains to his friends: “I have friends who are in the same position as me. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
After unemployment, education was the next area that matters most to people.
Joseph Giacomo is a law student in Gauteng. He says the cost of higher education is too high.
“I am studying at home because the NSFAs, a government student loan and bursary scheme didn’t come through to some financially disadvantaged students like me.”
“I believe higher education should be free, and people should be helped to get a matric qualification to study at higher education.” Luvo Fini in Western Cape says: “I work on a farm and in 2010 I passed grade 12, but due to lack of finance I wasn’t able to study further.”
Adrienne Murray reports on the part the economy may play in the South African election
“Although I had a diploma I had no bursary or financial assistance – South Africa doesn’t care about poor people.” “I’m just going to vote, just to vote, but I’ve lost hope in this country.” South Africa’s election was held on Wednesday 7 May.
The African National Congress is expected to be reelected It has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994. But many South Africans accuse it of not doing enough to help poor people – a feeling the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters are hoping to exploit.