President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the ANC should be frank about its failures in government but shine the spotlight on its successes, especially the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic meltdown.

Speaking at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) this week, Ramaphosa said that one of the critical areas of concern was the country’s high unemployment rate, the Sunday Times reports.

He said that youth unemployment would be a vital focus of the party’s election manifesto ahead of the local government elections on 1 November.

“This is the make-or-break moment for us when it comes to youth unemployment, and therefore we have to come up with a number of initiatives that will give hope to young people.”

He said many initiatives are already being implemented and gaining traction, but they needed to be “massified”. The campaign will also need to be more emphatic about the work the ANC has done to renew and rebuild, he said.

Ramaphosa also admitted that where the ANC governs, things are not going well.

“Our local government where we control is really in a mess. But we have to put that to our people and say we have learnt, but we are going to turn it around, and we have already started.

“The choices of mayors, municipal managers, we are putting people who are skilled and capable in key positions, and those key positions should also include key officials like your city or town engineer or your city or town treasurer and all that.”

Ramaphosa added that the government has also responded well to the pandemic and lockdown in some areas, which should be a focus of the ANC’s campaign.

Record-high unemployment

South Africa’s unemployment rate reached a record high in Q2 2021, data from Statistics Sout Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QFLS) shows.

The results show that the number of employed persons decreased by 54,000 in the second quarter of 2021 to 14.9 million. Stats SA said that the number of unemployed persons increased by 584,000 to 7.8 million compared to the first quarter of 2021.

The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 186,000 (5.9%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 571,000 (4.5%) between the two quarters resulting in a net decrease of 386,000 in the not economically active population.

These changes increased the official unemployment rate by 1.8 percentage points from 32.6% in the first quarter of 2021 to 34.4% in the second quarter of 2021 – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008.

According to the expanded definition of unemployment, the unemployment rate increased by 1.2 percentage points to 44.4% in Q2 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2021.

*First appeared in BusinessTech