Picture: WALDO SWEIGERS/BLOOMBERG
Picture: WALDO SWEIGERS/BLOOMBERG

It should come as no surprise that 2.2-million people lost their jobs between April and July, pushing SA’s unemployment rate to the highest of 83 countries tracked by Bloomberg

In this context, you can understand why the government would want to cling to the few jobs that SA has left. Yet its obstinate refusal to jettison unproductive and ruinously expensive staff from the public purse, or to take a harder line against powerful trade unions, is a key reason that private sector employment — a function of productive private sector-led growth — is collapsing.

Take the 30,000 or so jobs at Eskom which the World Bank reckons are unnecessary, or the 3,000 employees at SAA who will gain generous severance packages from the R10.5bn the National Treasury has now been asked to "find". Eskom’s bloated workforce is a key reason that we pay so much more now for our electricity than we did 10 years ago. It has made SA uncompetitive and unaffordable for its own citizens.

And SAA’s bailout is the forced reprioritisation of money from real pro-poor programmes, just to keep a failed airline alive. Meanwhile, 1.2-million public servants — or just 2.2% of the population — will gobble up almost 60% of this year’s tax revenue. It’s time to admit that the sums, and the logic behind it, are all wrong.

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