Poppy Mailola22 May 2024 | 11:00

POPPY MAILOLA: Our Jobs Now - EFF's comprehensive plan for job creation in SA

The EFF has devised a plan to create millions of decent jobs between 2024 and 2029, aimed at transforming the economic prospects of South Africans and addressing the unemployment crisis head-on.

POPPY MAILOLA: Our Jobs Now - EFF's comprehensive plan for job creation in SA

FILE: Unemployed builders, tilers and plumbers hold signs seeking jobs on the side of the road in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP

In South Africa, the pervasive issue of unemployment and underpaying jobs has persisted even amid periods of modest economic growth, contributing to a landscape marked by chronic unemployment, deep inequality, and massive poverty. This is why the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has devised a plan to create millions of decent jobs between 2024 and 2029, aimed at transforming the economic prospects of South Africans and addressing the unemployment crisis head-on.

Central to the EFF’s strategy is the enhancement of state capacity and the promotion of state-led industrialisation. This involves protecting and diversifying industries, supporting infant and existing businesses, and facilitating the transfer of ownership to black South Africans through subsidies. Additionally, increasing tariffs and promoting South African products domestically and internationally would bolster economic activity and job creation.

The EFF would establish state-owned housing and road companies to address the backlog in social housing and road infrastructure, creating nearly four million jobs in the short to medium term. A state-owned security company would insource all security personnel working in government facilities, generating 1.2 million sustainable and quality jobs without additional budget expenditure. Furthermore, a state-owned cleaning, horticulture, and landscaping company would provide these services to public facilities, creating over one million sustainable jobs.

Declaring multiple Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across various regions, with tax incentives and factory building allowances, would ensure each investor employs and sustains a minimum of 2,000 jobs per factory. Additionally, ensuring that 80% of goods and services procured by the state are domestically produced would stimulate local industries. Mandating that 50% of South Africa’s mineral resources are processed locally would also create jobs and foster the development of new urban centres. 

Furthermore, intensifying support for small-scale farming and agriculture, and legally compelling food traders to purchase locally produced food, would also boost the agricultural sector and create jobs across the food production chain.

The EFF would establish food processing zones to supply food items globally, leading to job creation throughout the food industry.

When it comes to communities in coastal areas in particular, if elected into office, we aim to develop agro-fishing businesses that would provide sustainable income and livelihoods. Prior to 2007, South African law did not recognise the existence of small-scale fishers. The legacy of centuries of systemic dispossession and marginalisation, rooted in colonial-era injustices, persisted through the discriminatory laws of the apartheid regime.

The EFF government pledges to engage with fishing communities in coastal towns across South Africa, including Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, Saldanha, Hout Bay, and Hawston in the Western Cape, Ndlambe in the Eastern Cape, and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. Through extensive consultations, the EFF’s aim would be to understand the unique challenges and opportunities faced by these communities, with the goal of revitalising their economies and improving livelihoods.

Furthermore, the EFF government is committed to accelerating the development of black participants in the fishing industry, particularly in key areas such as the West Coast of the Western Cape, the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal (with a specific focus on the vicinity around Kosi Bay), Margate on the South Coast, Jeffreys Bay, and Bluewater Bay in the Eastern Cape. By prioritising the empowerment and inclusion of black individuals within the sector, the EFF would be seeking to address historical inequalities and promote economic transformation.

As it stands, the construction industry is reportedly under the power of construction mafias who are said to be in cahoots with corrupt government officials. This ensures the under-the-table hiring of workers, as well as payment way below minimum wage while fostering unsafe working conditions, all in order to maximise profits at the expense of the lives of construction workers. The situation that recently occurred in George, Western Cape, where an unfinished five-storey building collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 33 people’s deaths. Furthermore, it has been revealed that the workers were allegedly being paid a mere R80 an hour for their work, with many of them unskilled for the work they were required to do. This is a mere extension of slave labour in our country. 

The EFF government is committed to ensuring that construction workers are worthily employed under acceptable living wages and safe working conditions, free from exploitation. To achieve this, the EFF would establish and strategically support state-owned companies dedicated to various construction sectors. These include a state-owned housing building construction company, a state-owned roads construction company, and a state-owned rail network construction company. By insourcing construction workers into these state-owned entities, the EFF would provide stable, fair employment with adequate compensation and a commitment to maintaining safe working environments. This initiative would guarantee that construction workers are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, securing their livelihoods and well-being.

Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) is also crucial to the EFF’s strategy. Legislation would ensure that SMMEs receive strategic support and that key industrial inputs and services to large corporations are sourced from SMMEs. The EFF would seek to protect the rights of street hawkers and informal traders, providing them with safe and clean trading environments and preventing the confiscation of their goods. Moreover, building markets and storage facilities for street vendors would support their businesses and boost local economies.

The EFF has consistently championed the cause of economic freedom and prioritised the rights and welfare of workers. Our commitment to securing fair wages is rooted in the historical context of forced and underpaid labour in South Africa, a legacy of both colonial and apartheid eras. We recognise the systemic exploitation that has marginalised the working class, and we are resolute in our mission to dismantle these oppressive structures. This is why the EFF's advocacy for a minimum wage is not merely a policy position but a fundamental principle aimed at restoring dignity and ensuring a just and equitable society. By legislating fair compensation across all sectors, we strive to rectify historical injustices and build an economy that truly serves the people.

As a result, the EFF government would enact legislation to establish a minimum wage of R6,000 for all full-time workers and would ensure that each sector receives the following minimum wages:

a) Mineworkers: R15,872.52 per month
b) Farm workers: R6,349.01 per month
c) Manufacturing workers: R8,253.71 per month
d) Retail workers: R6,349.01 per month
e) Builders: R8,888.61 per month
f) Petrol attendants: R8,253.71 per month
g) Cleaners: R5,714.11 per month
h) Domestic workers: R6,349.01 per month
i) Private security guards: R9,523.51 per month
j) Full-time waiters and waitresses: R5,714.11 per month, with guaranteed tips

In particular, throughout South Africa's history, domestic workers have been subjected to relentless exploitation and underpayment. Their work, crucial yet invisible, has been consistently undermined and taken for granted, reflecting a deep-seated entitlement to their labour. Under an EFF government, we would revalue their labour, ensuring that domestic workers are not only fairly compensated but also recognised and respected for their indispensable contributions to our society. This commitment is a vital step towards rectifying past wrongs and fostering a more equitable and dignified future for all workers.

Finally, youth unemployment remains a major issue in South Africa, with approximately 35.5% of young people aged 15–24 years not in employment, education, or training (NEET) and graduates experiencing an unemployment rate of 11.8%. In response to this, the EFF’s education and youth employment policies include the commitment to absorb all unemployed graduates into roles relevant to their qualifications and providing a minimum stipend of R5,000 per month to all degree or diploma holders, whether employed or not. 

Ultimately, the EFF’s comprehensive strategy aims to create millions of jobs, uplift communities, and drive sustainable economic growth in South Africa.

Poppy Mailola is the Deputy Secretary-General of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).