Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

I wish to promote a process that recognises that the SA economic and social situation in 2019 is similar to that faced by the US in the early 1930s, including high unemployment, no growth, a despondent youth, dire social challenges and a failing infrastructure.

To combat the problem in the US, the newly elected president, Franklin D Roosevelt, introduced the New Deal. The programme was far-reaching, but essentially sought to put the unemployed to work, albeit on a token wage; restore the dignity of people who had lost their jobs or who may never have been employed; make good use of the wasting asset of unemployed but productive labour; improve and restore a declining infrastructure; and create new assets for the public good.

The US programme helped to pull the US out of its malaise.

SA has an urgent need to address unemployment, particularly youth unemployment; an infrastructure in need of upgrading; extensive agricultural opportunities and opportunities to create new facilities such as for tourism; an underutilised defence force, including considerable assets in the shape of transport, accommodation (both barracks and tented); and catering services that could be deployed to service organised labour.

President Cyril Ramaphosa should be urged to urgently and energetically launch a New Deal for SA, to put unemployed youth to work under the control of disciplined managers (military personnel), use the after-hours time of the force housed in government facilities to supply extramural education dealing with the three Rs and beyond, restore the dignity of the unemployed and unleash a latent energy for the good of the country, and improve public infrastructure.

A task force should be set up with a high-level energetic leader. Who better than our Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain to promote the initiative?

David Gass