South Africans were on Monday warned to brace themselves for a debilitating economy that could see the country’s unemployment rate rising from 30 percent in the pre-coronavirus pandemic era to 50 percent in the post-lockdown period, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday.He said it was inevitable for people’s livelihoods to be destroyed due to the folding of businesses nationwide brought about by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The president told his compatriots that “employers, big and small, will have to retrench to mitigate the economic impact brought about by the lockdown.”
The reality was that it would take a long time for the economy to recover to what it was before the pandemic, he added.
Ramaphosa noted that the economy was already in the doldrums even before the pandemic, with a high unemployment rate and the country’s youth bearing the brunt of joblessness at 55 percent of their population.
This youth unemployment was expected to reach at least 70 percent in the post-Covid-19 period, a development which could have serious consequences for the socio-economic well-being of this generation, according to the president.
While the severe unemployment affected most countries that opted for a lockdown to contain the virus, “as a country, we have been aware of the negative consequences of shutting down economic activity during the lockdown that was absolutely critical to save the lives of our people,” Ramaphosa said.
“For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead.
“We would urge that the difficult decisions are taken with care and with due regard to balancing the sustainability of companies and the livelihoods of workers,” the president said.