South Africa

‘It’s not good at all’: SA’s unemployed speak out

By South Africa Votes 2014 24 April 2014

In February 2014, the South African job market lost 118,397 jobs. According to the Adcorp Employment Index, it was the largest monthly loss in almost three years. While unemployment is rife, citizens battle to understand why there are no jobs. RA’EESA PATHER reports for SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014 from Cape Town.

Pauline Pietersen, 50, Area unknown

I worked at KFC. I left because I had issues with people there and the working conditions sucked. I’m home for about two months now. No, I’m too old to get a job now. They take on the younger people who are less qualified than us who are qualified. I think maybe the pay bracket… they can pay them [young people] less. I don’t think it’s government. What I’ve come out of at the moment is my workplace. I can’t blame government. I surely hope the party I vote for will make a difference.

It’s hard being unemployed, especially if you have kids at school. School is not cheap. You still have to pay transport money, uniforms are expensive, books and whatever. I have one in matric at the moment… last one to go!

Dominic Adonis, 27, Bonteheuwel

I was working for Easigas, and I was just retrenched. I was angry when it happened. I worked five years for that company, and they just retrenched me. They retrenched about 49 people and just said there is no more work. My chances are good, but if I get a job now in between I will take it. It’s two months now that I’m looking. Yes, government can do something. A few years back, Zuma told people he’s going to create jobs. What happened to that? I don’t think I can believe him. There are still people sitting out there unemployed at home, struggling.

Ingrid Pienaar, 52, Delft

I don’t know why I’m struggling to find a job. I can’t say it’s the government. I worked in a factory, but it closed down. I’ve been looking now for work for about a month or so.  If the businesses are pushing, then there will be jobs, but at the moment it’s like this everywhere. I really don’t know how it can get better. I am voting, but the difference is I want to vote for my children and grandchildren. My daughter is working and she’s helping me now.

Lorenzo Tolo, 43, Khayelitsha

I was just doing side jobs. It’s difficult to find a job, but I don’t know why. It’s been a year now, and I’m still looking for one. I was getting unemployment insurance, but it’s finished already now. I have family, but they are supported because my wife is working. The government must create some more jobs, but you cannot say it’s government’s problem. It’s the owners of the businesses. They are taking foreigners like those guys from Zimbabwe and those places. You can go anywhere and you can see them; they are working.

Charlotte Mhkontwana, 20, Nyanga

I passed my matric last year. I’m trying to resolve all my problems. It won’t be easy to find a job, because I didn’t study further. There are not enough jobs, and most people are unemployed in the area where I live. I don’t want to lie; I don’t know what can be done. I would ask the government for free education. I hope the party I vote for will help me get a job. I want to work in the health industry. My friends applied, they dropped CVs everywhere, but they didn’t get responses. I just came here to the Labour Department to see if I can find something.

Mzwanele Lawrence, 28, Nyanga

I came to apply for UIF. I’m unemployed now [for] two months. I was working at the swimming pool in Gugulethu as a cashier. Jobs are very scarce, man… it’s very difficult to get a job. When there are posts, they already have their own people they want to take, so sometimes you feel like it’s useless making an application. I’ve been applying since last year, and I don’t get any response. They know who they are going to take before they even advertise the post. I think there is some corruption there. They don’t take people who are qualified for the job and I don’t know why.

Zuma promised more jobs but now there is this thing of the EPWP. I mean that thing is not the security of a permanent job, because with that thing, they give you a job for six months, then they give other people the job for six months. I don’t take it as a job opportunity. I mean you are going to work for six months, then you [are] going to look again for another six months.

Yolanda Crowie, 38, Ottery

I’ve been unemployed since January. I was a manager. It was tourism, and we got retrenched, so there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s not good at all. There are not enough jobs, and the worst part is it’s not a law, but if you go for a job interview they do a credit check. Whether you have 15 years’ experience or not, they just won’t give you the job. My husband worked for 20 years, he got retrenched, and he was unemployed for five years because he had a bad credit record. We need the jobs to get rid of the bad record, but people don’t see it like that. We are not creating enough jobs. There’s so much potential… there’s so much people can do to make jobs. DM

This story was originally published on

Photo: Thousands of hopeful job applicants queue for 200 positions advertised by the Metro Police Department in Durban, September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rogan Ward


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