Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the high unemployment number keeps him awake at night. It is good to know he is thinking about the problem. We have good news for him. We have the answer. If the president follows our advice the unemployment rate will go down faster than he ever could imagine. 

We call on Ramaphosa to ignore the politicisation of the unemployment crisis and involve the unemployed in the decision-making needed to solve the unemployment scourge. We strongly believe unemployed people are best placed to advise the government on how to reduce the countrys high level of unemployment.

It is unemployed people who are suffering. It is unemployed people who are experiencing hunger. It is unemployed people who are feeling hopeless. It is unemployed people who are told they are useless and lazy. And, in some instances, it is unemployed people who commit suicide because they cant get jobs. It is also unemployed young women who sell their bodies in exchange for food or money with which to feed their families.

We call upon the president to allow unemployed people to negotiate basic conditions of employment and wages with potential employers outside the ambit of the labour laws. This must be put to the test for a minimum of two years. It would give unemployed people a chance to enter the labour market and gain work experience and skills.

For the proper administration of our proposal we ask the  government to pass a law that legalises the Job Seekers Exemption Certificate. A simple and quick method must be implemented for those who want to work to apply for a certificate and receive one immediately. The municipalities are closest to the people, and they should have the job of issuing these certificates.

The certificate will be a legal document that releases long-term unemployed people from the shackles of unemployment. It will do that without affecting the protection the labour laws give to those who are already employed.

The exemption will not harm the people who already have jobs, including members of labour unions. The concept has been especially crafted to ensure it does good and does no-one any harm.

If this solution can be implemented, Ramaphosa is guaranteed to sleep more peacefully at night. At the same time, this proposed solution has the potential of restoring the dignity of the unemployed and give the economy a big boost.

The president has nothing to lose and everything to gain including a good night's rest!

Xolile Mpini, CEO, Langeberg Unemployed Forum

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an email with your comments to letters@businesslive.co.za. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.​

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