South Africans must work together to ensure that jobs lost during the Covid-19 pandemic are replaced, apart from making efforts to create additional ones to reduce unemployment in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.The president was speaking a day after Statistics South Africa disclosed that the country had reduced its unemployment rate in the second quarter of this year from 30% to 23% — which translated to 10.8 million jobless people.
Ramaphosa said South Africans must work together to ensure a rapid rebound in employment following the release of the latest employment figures.
“Now is the time for all South Africans to pull together and grow South Africa,” the president said.
He added: “In addition to the relief measures we have already implemented during the pandemic, we must ensure that every job lost during the crisis is replaced and that more jobs are created so that we can meaningfully reduce unemployment.”
He said the country’s success in responding to this unprecedented crisis “will be measured by the speed of our labour market recovery”.
The president reminded the nation that Cabinet was in the process of finalising a programme for a return to growth and a rebound in employment.
Structural reforms, investment in infrastructure and other measures to grow the economy, the President said, would play a crucial role in supporting the recovery of the labour market in the medium term.
While the labour market recovered, government would continue to expand its programmes aimed at keeping people in work and sustaining livelihoods, he said.
“Implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus will soon commence to rapidly scale up public and social employment and support job protection in vulnerable sectors.
“Government’s historic economic and social relief package has been vital in shielding companies, workers and households from the worst effects of the pandemic,” the president said.
South Africa, like most countries, has experienced both a sharp increase in unemployment and an increase in economic inactivity as a result of the measures necessary to contain the pandemic which hit the country in March this year – killing over 16,600 people from 672,572 Covid-19 cases.