Opinionista Ian Von Memerty 2 August 2018

The media’s shameful myopia when it comes to job trends

Jobs are being created – well, not everywhere and not for everyone – but the media is so scared of appearing partisan that they barely report this.

To find unsensationalised facts in the media is becoming increasingly difficult. It seems that here in South Africa we too are being Trumpified.

There are a plethora of social ills which afflict South Africans. Among them are appalling and ever-falling education standards, a soaring cost of living, incompetence and corruption in delivery of healthcare, housing, safety and, it is almost universally agreed as the most important thing of all, mass unemployment.

Who are the worst affected by this? To put this in terms which the ANC and EFF want us to define ourselves, that means poor black South Africans. The latest attack on these millions of defenceless citizens has been the soaring petrol price. R6.92 in 2008 to R15.53 in 2018, and the fuel tax has increased by 316%.

Who pays the greatest price for this? Poor black South African commuters. Give any low income person a lift, anywhere, and the topic will turn to the taxi price hike within two minutes. Up to 40% of their miserable wages goes on travel. Up to R300 more every month. And this is all under an ANC government who are spending billions every six months on bailing out SAA, and spending millions to pay for Jacob Zuma’s legal bills.

To put it bluntly the ANC has decided that their voters should carry the heaviest burden of all, and pay a brutal price every day.

So when I read that national (expanded) unemployment had risen to 37.2% I was again filled with rage. The ANC voters, once again being governed with such incompetence, have had their chance of finding a job reduced every month.

BUT then comes the good news. Joburg’s unemployment rate dropped from 32.3% to 30.8% in the first six months of 2018: 109,000 people’s lives were changed by now having a job, which means that 109,000 families lives changed as well. Last month StatsSA and Africa Check announced that of the 165,000 new jobs created in SA last year, 123,000 of those jobs were created in the Western Cape.

So what do the Western Cape and Joburg have in common? They are run by-DA led governments, whose policies, whether one agrees with them or not, and even if you disagree with how they are implemented, are making actual, real differences for the better in the lives of poor black South African. So here is the big question. Why is this fact not accurately reported by the media in any substantial way?

And the answer seems to be “a free media is afraid of being seen as propagandists for a political party by promoting their achievements”. But there is a danger in suppressing the truth by not reporting the facts, so as not to “be a tool of one party”, they are indeed playing the part of propagandists for the party whose negative acts are devastating for the country.

As much as we need debate, opinion, and concern with issues, here are two simple facts, which I am certain 99% of ANC voters, and 70% of DA voters do not know. Last year the DA (with one province) created three times the number of jobs that the ANC did (running the national government and eight provinces). In 2018, while the ANC increased unemployment around the country, the DA in Joburg dropped unemployment.

Those two facts are more important for the future and increased well-being of our country than any debate about Patricia de Lille, Tom Moyane or Lindiwe Mazibuko.

In not telling us those truths, loudly, clearly and repeatedly, the media is denying the South African electorate knowledge which could affect their democratic decisions and their rights to freedom of information.

As for the DA, if the media is not going to help you, and knowing that social media remains locked into tight little cells – it is up to you to think like marketers. There is a well-established and expanding industry in this country of below-the-line activations. Huge multi-national companies who spend almost nothing on advertising and instead spend their money on selling to stokvels, students, spazas, mothers and mall shoppers. The way to sell a product is to get out there to the consumer on their own ground, and give them experiences, and takeaways that serve as reminders so that they “think about the product” in a way far longer than a simple advertising blast.

If the media is so scared of reporting any facts which may taint them as being politically biased – then it is up to the party to sell the facts to potential voters. New thinking means new votes. Every poor South African has no choice but to think in terms of basic survival and if you offer them a greater chance of a job and a lower petrol price, they will listen, even if the press remains shamefully mute. DM

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