Thu Dec 08 16:21:28 SAST 2016

Hard choices ahead - are our leaders up to the challenge?

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2011-11-14 00:02:38.0
National Planning Commission chairperson Trevor Manuel at the launch of a live radio discussion on the vision for SA in 2030 Picture: ALON SKUY

The Times Editorial: The National Planning Commission, chaired by Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, on Friday unveiled its National Development Plan - and the figures look bleak.

The recent "economic freedom" march by the now embattled ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, was an attempt to highlight the plight of millions of young South Africans.

President Jacob Zuma announced last week that his government would scale down its target of creating five million jobs by 2014 because of the eurozone crisis.

That the government is not being besieged by angry people marching to demand a better life is a miracle.

But it seems that, across the world and in South Africa, the days of governments being able to weather popular discontent with economic mismanagement are coming to an end.

In these desperate economic times, something will have to give.

Manuel's report tells us that, if a young person reaches the age of 24, or even 30, without finding employment, he is unlikely ever to get a job.

It says that an 18-year-old woman from a poor background, who passed matric last year but cannot afford to study further, has only a 4% chance of getting a job with a salary of R4000 a month within five years of leaving school. If she gets piece work, she will live below the newly defined poverty line of R400 a month for all her working life.

Her only hope of having a reasonable income will be when she reaches pensionable age.

Manuel says we could improve our economic fortunes with growth of 5.4% a year. But he emphasised that, for this to happen, there would have to be the political will to make brave decisions.

Other countries do not hesitate to throw out governments because of their economic incompetence but South Africans seem more interested in the ANC leadership race and in what Malema will do next.

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