President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe

The Ramaphoria of early 2018 is well and truly dead. Early images of President Cyril Ramaphosa exercising on the Sea Point promenade, or on the Cape Flats, or in Soweto, fired up other walkers and supporters: the message was one of renewal. But that now contrasts sharply with SA’s reality, laid bare in the daily barrage of depressing news.

This week Stats SA said the unemployment rate rose to 29% in the second quarter. That’s 1.4 percentage points higher than the first quarter. Unemployment, in other words, is at record levels.

And a figure that is a more accurate reflection of the crisis — the expanded unemployment rate, which includes discouraged jobseekers — has now risen to 38.5%.

Against a backdrop of weak growth, this is catastrophic. The data shows that 150,000 more working-age South Africans have entered the job market while youth unemployment, at 56.4%, is at levels never seen before.

These stats show how fragile Ramaphosa’s "new dawn" really is.

During his state of the nation address in June, he said his administration had set itself a target to create 2-million jobs for unemployed young people in the next 10 years.

With each passing week, that target seems more like a Ramaphantasy.