'Young people find refuge in drugs because they have nothing to do': Julius Malema on unemployment

03 June 2021 - 10:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.
Image: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.

EFF leader Julius Malema says young people are finding refuge in drugs and crime because of ever-rising unemployment in SA.

He was speaking during the debate of the presidency's budget vote in parliament on Wednesday.

Blaming President Cyril Ramaphosa for the crisis, Malema said: “Since you took over, the number of unemployed people increased from 6.1 million people to 7.2 million. You didn’t make any progress ... Many of these are young people who just loiter the streets, find refuge in drugs, drug abuse and crime because they do not have anything to do.,

“You are responsible for this crisis.”

Malema was reacting to the latest report which revealed that SA’s unemployment rate hit its highest level since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008in the first quarter of 2021. 

According to the report, the number of employed people decreased by 28,000 to 15 million in the first quarter of 2021. The number of unemployed people increased by 8,000 to 7.2 million compared to the fourth quarter of last year. 

In spite of the decrease in the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement (down by 0.3%), the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 201,000 (up by 6.9%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net increase of 164,000 in the 'not economically active' population,” said the report. 

Ramaphosa said there was a need to create jobs for young people and that the report demonstrated the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The rising number of unemployed and those who are actively searching for work but cannot find it represents real people in every part of our country. They include too many of the 18 million young men and women across the country who make up nearly a third of our population,” said Ramaphosa.