Change the world


This article appeared in The Herald of 1 August 2018 written by Tremaine van Aardt

The youth will be the biggest losers if South Africa does not restructure its trade and business policies along with its education system.

This is according to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who delivered a speech, entitled “Global trends in economic development: Implications for Africa and South Africa”, at Nelson Mandela University on Tuesday.

He was one of an influential group of speakers at the university’s three-day Youth Development Convention.

Touching on Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, Jonas said with SA’s high level of dependency on foreign commodity markets as sources of growth, the country was highly vulnerable to the negative effects of deglobalisation.

“New forms of economic nationalism are developing with looming trade wars and countries being forced to choose allies in a way we haven’t seen since the collapse of the state socialist bloc in the early 1980s,” he said.

“We need to urgently increase regional trade and integration.

“Deglobalisation and trade wars could mean losing global market share and we need to lessen global dependencies through building domestic and regional markets.

“As a country, we need to develop a fresh and pragmatic approach to international relations.

“We need to use existing multilateral platforms where we have influence, such as Brics, to shape how a new world order can be regulated.”

Jonas highlighted several elements which needed to be addressed if South Africa was to weather the uncertain times.

These included prioritising regional trade and building a 21st-century economy, together with creating better accountability and state capacity mechanisms while being more youth-centric.

He pinned all of the elements on restructuring the education system, which he said had been failing the youth for the past three decades.

“One-third of all those aged 15 to 34 are unemployed.

“This is a problem which has its roots in the performance of our education system.

“A new grant should be introduced to provide young jobseekers with the means to cover the costs of transport, short-term training and job preparation.

“The overriding emphasis of government must be to provide pathways for young people into the work world.

“The youth must be at the centre of developing solutions to the problems we face as an economy and a society.”