We agree that cost of living must be highlighted as a critical issue that needs urgent attention to provide relief to millions of South Africans. Our own research shows that it is top of mind for most respondents, in particular food and transport. Food inflation has a direct impact on food security, a problem that has seen food protests elsewhere on the African continent.
South Africans are struggling to make ends meet for three main reasons:
- High unemployment (34%) which is even more severe for millions of mostly young people who are not able to finish their schooling or cannot secure further training after leaving the school system. 90% of working age people who are unemployed have neither matric nor a post-matric qualification. When those who have given up looking for work are accounted for, South Africa’s unemployment stands at 44%. Unemployment is the biggest driver of poverty in South Africa.
- Highest inflation rate in thirteen (13) years. South Africa’s inflation (the rate at which prices increase) now stands at 7.4%, the highest since 2009. In a country with high unemployment and poverty, a high rate of inflation is devastating even if some foodstuffs are zero-rated for VAT.
- Economic mismanagement, corruption and misgovernance. For nearly two decades, South Africa has been under relentless assault from corrupt political and business elites at national and local level, who have either wasted, misdirected or stolen public funds, which public funds should have been used to provide relief and economic opportunities to the South African people.
Public protest is critical to keep the unacceptable suffering of millions of people front and centre of national attention – but it is also time for bold multi-stakeholder and political action to resolve the issues highlighted above urgently. The opportunity to work is central to the reduction of poverty and securing the dignity of every individual. It is not possible to create sustainable work opportunities in an environment of political unaccountability, rampant corruption and poor service delivery by municipalities that are close to collapse as a result.
South Africa needs a new social contract where all stakeholders make clear commitments and tangible, quantifiable sacrifices in order to facilitate political, governance and socioeconomic interventions to lay the basis for short-term economic relief and sustainable, inclusive economic growth in the medium to long term.
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About the Rivonia Circle
The Rivonia Circle is a South African think tank that facilitates policy conversations, mobilising South Africans to use their own POWER TO ACT towards achieving self-governance and demanding accountability from those who govern. Through our programmes and interventions, we will produce bold ideas and solutions through research and community collaboration; driven by ethical, modernizing leaders for a new South African age.
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