Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

You can hardly pick up a newspaper today without reading something about SA’s wealthiest man, Christo Wiese. That’s probably to be expected, given the R16bn listing this week of Steinhoff’s African arm, Star, or the machinations at Shoprite this year.

But it is his message in Shoprite’s annual report, released last week, that deserves to be repeated often, and widely. Wiese says that at the heart of SA’s problems lie rampant unemployment and poor education. He points, particularly, to an unemployment rate of 38.6% among those aged between 15 and 34 years old.

This isn’t being fixed, he says, because the wrong questions are being asked. "The right question is not, ‘What do our people want?’, nor ‘What do our people need?’ The right question is, ‘What can our people not do without?’ The answer is self-evident — our people need jobs."

This sentiment is even more crucial in light of the terrifying numbers released by Statistics SA last month, which show that 55% of our people live on less than R33/day, with a quarter surviving on less than R15/day.

Everything government does should be judged by how many jobs it creates. While Wiese didn’t say as much, the corporate sector should be judged on the same metric. As a starting point, companies would do well to disclose their jobs numbers alongside their financials.

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