Grahamstown UPM to picket opening of Parliament on Zuma’s 500 000 jobs

11 02 2010

Press statement for immediate release

The Grahamstown Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) is to hold a demonstration in Cape Town to coincide with President Jacob Zuma’s opening of Parliament tomorrow evening. The purpose of the demonstration is to highlight the plight of the unemployed in the town, and to protest against the fact that Zuma has not delivered on his promise of 500 000 jobs within six months of taking office. His failure to do so has been confirmed by Statistics South Africa (SSA). In fact, SSA has showed that in the fourth quarter of 2009, jobs were lost.
The unemployment situation in Grahamstown has reached crisis levels, and is hovering at around 70 percent. The most affected are young people, including graduates.

Unemployment in Grahamstown has increased in the past few years. Several industries that provided employment have closed down. These include the railway industry: the line between Grahamstown and Alicedale, which used to be the core railway junction in South Africa before the mid-1990’s, was closed down. A kaolin (white clay used in the manufacture of ceramics, medicine, coated paper, in toothpaste, light bulbs, cosmetics and porcelain) processing factory was also closed down. The Municipality now exports kaolin, in the process making jobs outside Grahamstown. A poultry firm has also been closed down. The Makana Municipality is not creating any labour absorbing activities to absorb the unemployment created by the closure of these industries.

The services sector in Grahamstown, such as Rhodes University and the Grahamstown Arts Festival, has not created enough jobs to compensate. Jobs that are created usually require specific skills or are temporary or casual in nature. This sector has not done enough to address the plight of the unemployed.

The scale of human suffering this problem is causing must not be underestimated. The rate of crime has increased, especially in the township. The liquor and drugs industries are the fastest growing industries. There have been a number of suicide cases, and some unemployed people have died due to stress. Families are breaking down, and women and children are being abused.

We call on Zuma to:

• Implement the promises he made when he was voted into office.

• Ensure that the Makana Municipality implements a labour absorbing expanded public works programme, and provides resources for the development of co-operatives to exploit Grahamstown’s rich natural resources for the benefit of its people.

• Focus more on matters of state, rather than having more affairs with women.

Lastly, the UPM calls on all unemployed people to unite to form a national movement of the unemployed to struggle for full employment in South Africa. The UPM also calls on the state to nationalise key industries to create more employment, as we do not trust the private sector to resolve the employment crisis, as the private sector has been very much part of the problem. Furthermore, the services industries in Grahamstown, such as the university and the National Arts Festival must be required to create employment in return for the massive cash injections they get from the government.

Contact: Ayanda Kota (convenor): 078 625 6462

Mahomed Moorad: 071 922 1227




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