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Labour Day: Bishops urge government to tackle unemployment

South African ruling party African National Congress supporters queue to enter Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane to attend Labour Day  - AFP

South African ruling party African National Congress supporters queue to enter Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane to attend Labour Day - AFP

29/04/2017 12:20

South Africa’s Bishop of Kimberly, Abel Gabuza who is the Chairperson of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC)’s Justice and Peace Commission has said that there is not much to celebrate on the International Workers Day this year. The Bishop says millions of young people in the country remain unemployed and desperate. 

SACBC’s Justice and Peace Commission believes that, “Youth unemployment in South Africa has now reached dangerous levels, with many unemployed youths now being exposed to drug abuse, human trafficking, recruitment to a life of crime and manipulation by unscrupulous politicians who recruit them for violent protests and political destabilisation,” Gabuza said. 

Bishop Gabuza has therefore called on the South African government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s policy conference in June “to review the youth wage subsidy and its ability to reverse youth unemployment trends in South Africa.”

“In the absence of an impact study that demonstrates the contrary, to us, the youth wage subsidy will remain a costly and unsustainable venture which subsidises private companies and boosts their profit margins, without creating an enforceable obligation on the part of private companies to develop a certain level of skills and retain a certain percentage of young people as permanent employees.” Bishop Gabuza warned. He added that youth unemployment would not be addressed comprehensively in the country if the culture of corruption and patronage networks continued to prevail.

“It is true that to lower the current levels of youth unemployment, the government needs to adopt radical economic transformation. It should, however, be a radical economic transformation that benefits all, and not only a few who are politically connected, ” Bishop Gabuza said. 

During International Workers’ Day or Labour Day on 1st May each year, workers all over the world have an opportunity to celebrate the day through speeches by union leaders, march pasts, demonstrations and various forms of activism. 

(Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va)

29/04/2017 12:20