Tuesday, 06 January 2009

MDGs: How far is (South) Africa?

In early 2007, being an inquisitive citizen as I was in my final year of study at North West University’s Mafikeng campus, I entered Finweek’s Shanduka Essay Challenge 2007. It was during my little research that I discovered or noticed some of the challenges that South Africa and other developing countries in the continent faced.

The objective of the essay, at least I thought, was to find out if South Africa students – especially those in institutions of higher learning – understood what had to be done to alleviate the challenges - Millennium Development Goals – which South Africa through its former president Thabo Mbeki, committed itself to.

It further emerged during the writing of the essay that not only did South Africa commit itself to achieving the MDGs, but other African continent did too and too little has happened to or nothing has been done at the time.

How can South Africa half unemployment by 2014 in line with the Millennium Development Goals? , was the topic which many students or South Africans in general, attempted to address.

It was however not an easy essay. This is because it required some detailed research and analysis on how we South Africans can help in addressing challenges that we faced on a daily basis which over fourteen years of democracy (despite attempts made by government to address such challenges) little progress has been done.

I said in my essay: “One other factors (sic) that is not seen as contributing, is that of high birth rate in South Africa. That also causes high unemployment. The more birth rate we have in South Africa, the more chances of high unemployment. Sunday newspapers advertise lot of vacancies, especially in the Public Sector and also private and it takes a lot of time to fill them, as those applying do not possess the job requirements. And government resort to recruiting those that had retired to fill those positions.”

On measures to reduce unemployment, I said:

Government can come up with as many policies and programmes as it possibly can,
but if the education system is not properly looked at or investigated, we
citizens & government) will not be able to halve unemployment
before 2014.
This is also a challenge again to the private sector, as it
needs the relevant
skills as well to make profit and create more

The ruling party must engage with the opposition parties on
how to address unemployment for the betterment of the country. Government should
emphasize entrepreneurship, than just providing jobs, especially among
unemployed graduates and women in both rural and developing rural communities.

But a lot of young people who tried this route, say they aren’t
able to get funds for whatever projects they had embarked upon, and government
needs to make sure that they preach entrepreneurship. The private sector also
has to come in by investing in small businesses so that they can growth and be
able to make profit and create more jobs and halve unemployment.

As mentioned that high birth rate increases the high rate of unemployment, it is
time South Africa regulated the number of children that a person must have and
the age at which that person should have a child and or children. Twenty-five
would be the appropriate age for one to have children, and a person must only be
allowed to have three children. This would help in such a way that, it would be
known how many people are likely to be unemployed and how to can help them”.When reading this extracts from the essay, bear in mind that the remarks made applied at the time of writing, but are not restricted to the present situations in which South Africa finds itself and other developing African countries.

In conclusion, I emphasized that:

Globalization plays a very important role in making sure that South Africa is able to compete globally with all the resources it has. Entrepreneurship emphasis among the unemployed graduates, youth, and women in rural communities is required. There need to be more youth empowerment by the public and private sector, so as to increase the level of productivity and the likelihood of employment.

More investment in Education is highly required by private and public sector and also communication between the two on the critical skills required for the economic growth and development so as to increase the likelihood of high absorption of graduates into the workforce.

It is also important for students to get more career guidance before embarking on a career, and entering the Higher Learning Institutions. This high unemployment is fed by the lack of quality education and educators.

But as for how the labour laws affect the unemployment, it also needs to be looked at, and if available policies are properly implemented and monitored”.In her insightful book – Laying Ghosts To Rest – about South African transition from apartheid to democracy, a renowned business woman, political activist and former vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town Mamphele Ramphele advised and emphasized that it is important and critical that all of us as South Africans take the initiative and make things better for ourselves and for the generations to come.

In South Africa MDG Report 2005 and Millennium & Development Goals Mid-term Report 2007 there are indications that South Africa has made strides in achieving some targets ahead of time as compared to other countries in the developing African continent.

This however, does not justify South Africa’s failure in achieving some of the targets which were set when the MDG were set in 2000.

Both reports also indicated some of the challenges that the developing countries – especially those in Africa – face and needs to be addressed before the target date looms, 2015.

The SAIRR (South African Institute of Race Relations)’s press release indicated that there has been a decease in the unemployment rate over the past few year especially from late 2007. The institute also warns that the current financial crisis, the country’s economic growth and the inflation (or deflation) is likely to affect success – the unemployment rate decrease – which the country had achieved.

In what many have called brilliant description and thorough analysis of South African president Thabo Mbeki, Brian Pottinger’s book about The Mbeki Legacy makes strong criticism of the president’s denial of the crisis (crime, poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS) as having had an enormous negative effect of the country’s failure, and limited success, in achieving its MDGs which as a result could have development means and way to alleviate poverty and decrease the high mortality rate.

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