Deferred Opportunities: SONA 2020 What’s On The Agenda For The Crisis Of Unemployment?

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South Africa is faced with a national crisis of unemployment. According to Statistics South Africa black females are the most vulnerable. Let us not neglect that the many young people faced with unemployment are prone to depression. As the percentage of unemployment increased in the third quarter of 2019, anxiety and depression became a friend to many young people. A very cruel and unkind friend with the intention of diminishing the confidence of many people.

Phiwe Mncwabe is a South African resident in the Western side of Johannesburg. An Afrikan feminist, born storyteller, avid reader and dabbler of note. A lover of the African continent, aspiring to travel across Africa. She is aspiring to become a strategic problem solver in social and developmental challenges facing Africa. In isolation of her interests in activism, she has explored academia in the field of social sciences in Development studies. She is writing, reading and searching to enter writing spaces in Africa.

The third quarter of 2019 welcomed many young people with distress and anxiety. Not only did we as the youth of South Africa myself included be alarmed with the 29.1% percentage standing of unemployment. I don’t believe this came as a surprise for many citizens of South Africa. I do however believe that this alarming increase has fostered depression and the lack of trust in our government. Where do I begin to unearth this national crisis? Do I consult our history of oppression, corruption or maybe just come to terms with the reality that there is no employment in South Africa?

The commencement of the commemoration of our global icon Nelson Mandela making headlines reminding South Africans of the contribution of uTata uMadiba, also raises concerns of the true liberation he stood by. The kind of liberation associated with ending injustices and overcoming Apartheid colonial rule. It is however disappointing to realise that many South Africans are “free but not freed”.

The national crisis of unemployment has challenged many people and even drove some to depression. This is because unemployment impacts young people in various ways. I don’t believe that the impacts of unemployment are comprehended because not many are vocal about these impacts. However, let me be frank that because of unemployment many are limited to only one meal a day. Some females have no idea where the next packet of sanitary towels will come from. There are some who don’t have any resources to job-hunt ,the lack of accessing emails and increase in data costs. Some cannot attend interviews due to the lack of transport money. As small as it may seem some don’t have money to send out applications to government departments because it is costly.

These impacts contribute to the loss of self-confidence and anxiety. The rejection and the lack of feedback leaving so many uncertainties. This raising the question of the “value of the degree”. Was this piece of paper worth being pursued and obtained? Or maybe the choice of this “paper” was not the right one? Some even question their value as individuals because they feel like they don’t have a place in society.

However, the crux of what the national crisis of unemployment is that more people especially young graduates are concerned about their national identity. The concern is rather what place will they have when the “grey hairs” step down if they are not receiving placements? Who is going to take the baton and run with it? At this rate that South Africa is going we don’t know where we stand!

Granted, the crisis of unemployment does not make South Africa a land without opportunities. South Africa is a land filled with opportunities for venturing into entrepreneurship however, not every individual is designed to become an entrepreneur. If we were designed to be entrepreneurs, we would not be faced with this crisis. Again, what we need to understand as Africa in general is that our society is divided into three spectrums. There is civil society empowerment , entrepreneurship and “private and public sector”. Each of these categories all have a role to play and contribute to society.

Therefore, if the unemployed are driven to entrepreneurship who will assist in empowering the civil society and what happens to the activists? It is very crucial to be clear when directing the unemployed to entrepreneurial opportunities.

To say, that it is the responsibility alone of the government to assist in eradicating South Africa’s crisis would be unfair. This crisis should not be placed in the hands of government alone. As a country we all have a role to play in ensuring that young people, graduates and every person struggling to enter the job market leverages in other spaces in South Africa. If its entrepreneurship provisions of funding and training be presented. The atmosphere to be so conducive and inclusive for every individual to enter.

I believe in the possibility of this becoming a reality because I do believe South Africa is a land filled with opportunities. With that said, every unemployed person in South Africa should not be made to believe that employment defines people. What defines us is our potential to be willing to learn and see where our skills can take us.

As for the State of Nation Address that South Africans are waiting upon, can President Ramaphosa kindly deliberate on solutions. The kind of solutions that will lead into shaping the liberation of young minds and calming our national identities. As for me, being employed by Africa is so liberating.

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