With 11.7 million unemployed under the ANC, today is Workless Day in SA

01 May 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered today by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, in Lentegeur in the Western Cape, in commemoration of Worker’s Day. 

Fellow Democrats,

It’s great to be with you in Mitchells Plain this morning.

Waar’s dit lekker?

Hier’s dit lekker!

Want Mitchells Plein hou dit blou.

We meet here today on an important occasion: the thirtieth anniversary of Workers’ Day in democratic South Africa.

And I can think of no better place to commemorate the importance of ensuring that every South African has fair access to a job, than right here in the Western Cape.

Just last week, we also marked Freedom Day on the thirtieth anniversary of our democracy.

But let me tell you: freedom means very little without a job.

The truth is that the national unemployment rate was 20% in 1994 when the ANC took power.

Today, it is over 32%.

And it increases to over 40% if you include people who have given up on ever finding a job.

Out of every 10 young people looking for work, 7 will never find a job if things remain as they are.

According to the expanded unemployment rate, over 11.7 million people now cannot find work in South Africa.

So, while Workers’ Day is an international holiday celebrated the world over, this day needs a different name in South Africa.

Because of the ANC’s legacy of destroying jobs, today should not be called Workers’ Day.

In South Africa, today is Workless Day.

As gevolg van die ANC vier ons nie vandag Werkers Dag in Suid-Afrika nie.

Ons gedenk Werkloosheids Dag.

But there is one exception.

There are eight ANC-run provinces in this country where it is indeed Workless Day today.

But there is one – and only one – province, where we actually can celebrate Workers’ Day today.

That province is the DA-run Western Cape.

Just read the DA’s posters.

Die Wes-Kaap werk!

Over the past five years, the DA-run Western Cape has created 8 out of every 10 net new jobs in the whole South Africa.

The remaining 8 ANC-run provinces combined, created only 2 out of every 10 new jobs.

And in this DA-run province, 8 out of every 10 people have a job, giving the Western Cape by far the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa.

Over a period of just one year, the DA-run Western Cape created over 360 000 new jobs.

But, while we are making progress here as ANC-run provinces fall further behind, the DA’s work in the Western Cape is far from done.

I’d like to make a pledge to you today.

If you re-elect the DA to govern this province with an outright majority on 29 May, we will not rest until every single person in the Western Cape who wants to work, can find a job!

That is why the DA’s manifesto pledges to create 800 000 new jobs in the Western Cape over the next five years.

We all know that political parties are currently running around promising the sun, the moon and the sky.

But there is only one party in this whole country that can show you the evidence that it gets things done to create jobs.

That party is the DA.

On the 29th of May, vote for the DA so we can finish the job of ensuring that everyone in this beautiful province can access the dignity and opportunity that only a job can provide!

But Democrats, the DA’s rescue mission in this election does not end there.

We know that the Western Cape could have been even further along if it was not being held back by the corrupt ANC national government.

Just look around you.

Everything in the Western Cape that works, is run by the DA provincial government.

Roads, water, sanitation and basic services.

But everything that doesn’t work – like the trains, the police and the ports – are run by the ANC national government.

If we want to create those thousands of new jobs, it is now time to also fix these critical services by removing the ANC from power nationally on 29 May!

A new national government anchored by the DA will not only fix what the ANC has broken.

We will also use the DA’s Western Cape Powers Bill to devolve more control to this well-run province, so that the people of the Western Cape can control their own police, their own public transport, and their own futures!


There is another important reason why it is time to rescue South Africa from the failed ANC national government.

I want to say to you very clearly today: the unemployment crisis in this country is no accident.

If you are still sitting at home without a job despite all of the great work that the DA is doing in the Western Cape, you need to understand that you have been deliberately excluded and plunged into unemployment.

Since 1994, there has been an unholy alliance between the ANC, the South African Communist Party and COSATU that has deliberately built a system of economic exclusion.

This unholy alliance created a system where the real monthly minimum wage for 11.7 million unemployed people is precisely R0.

The ANC cadres inside COSATU love to lie that they are on the side of the poor.

But the fact that we have a R0 minimum wage for 11.7 million people in South Africa, is the legacy of the unholy alliance between the ANC and COSATU.

This unholy alliance is the enemy of unemployed people in South Africa.

The destructive laws enacted by the unholy alliance over the past thirty years have deliberately deepened the insider-outsider stitch-up that characterises the South African economy.

A small group of ANC and COSATU cadres have benefitted enormously from exclusionary practices like cadre deployment and B-BBEE while trapping over 30 million people in grinding poverty.

And now they want to deepen that exclusion even more, through new race quotas that could effectively ban the employment of coloured people in certain sectors and certain parts of the country!

It is therefore not surprising to hear that COSATU is threatened by the rise of the DA in all credible polling.

On the 29th of May, the people of South Africa will usher in a new era of job creation by electing the DA as the anchor tenant for a new national government.

And this new government will take the fight to the enemies of the unemployed who hide inside organisations like COSATU.

For far too long, ANC proxies pretending to be trade unionists have held millions of South Africans hostage through their exclusionary policies.

Even as we uphold all fundamental protections for workers and employers as mandated by the Constitution, a new government anchored by the DA will deliberately break down the walls of economic exclusion built by the ANC and COSATU.

We will do so by scrapping job-killing policies like cadre deployment, race quotas, expropriation without compensation, and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.

We will replace race-based BEE that only benefits connected cadres with means-tested empowerment that truly benefits the 30 million impoverished people who desperately need it.

We will give unemployed youth a leg up in the labour market through a Youth Employment Opportunity Certificate, which will allow holders of this certificate to choose to opt out of laws that consign them to the R0 minimum wage created by the unholy alliance.

While implementing these widespread reforms, we will continue to protect those who are already employed by sustaining the minimum wage at its current level.

While the unholy alliance has abused its power to build an economy that only benefits its own connected cadres, the Democratic Alliance will break down the walls of exclusion to ensure a growing economy with fair access to jobs for all.

Unlike the ANC and its cronies in COSATU, the DA knows that having 11.7 million people unemployed is not just a number.

Behind that number, there are human beings, and millions of families that depend on them for survival.

So, to the single mother who doesn’t know where the next meal for her baby will come from.

To the husbands and fathers who have lost their jobs due to loadshedding and corruption, and who are panicked because they can no longer feed their families.

To the young graduates who are forced to beg at traffic lights wearing their graduation gowns, I say.

Help is on the way!

Help is on the way from the DA, the only party with a proven track record of job creation.

The only party that is battle tested, that has the policies and the people to create millions of new jobs to get South Africa working.

In this election, the choice is simple.

If you want a job, vote for the DA!

Because the DA will rescue South Africa from unemployment.

Thank you.