RELYING on big business and corporations is not the solution to fixing South Africa’s unemployment crisis and the focus should be shifted to supporting more entrepreneurs and small businesses, author and world-renowned scenario planner Clem Sunter says.
Sunter was the keynote speaker at a Noah Charity fundraising breakfast in Port Elizabethyesterday.
“We [South Africa] have an ambivalent attitude towards entrepreneurs and while other countries roll out the red carpet to these people, we instead roll out the red tape,” he said.
Sunter said labour laws were stifling entrepreneurship and access to capital to start a business was limited.
“Big businesses will never create the jobs this government is envisioning. Most companies have changed their employment models and now only employ core positions and sub-contract everything else.”
Sunter said about 16 million people relied on government grants in South Africa.
“If we can encourage a tenth of those 16 million people to start their own businesses, we would have 1.6 million people employed. If they could all employ just one person, there would be 3.2 million people employed and we would have achieved half of government’s five million jobs target.”
Sunter said South Africa was in a relatively good position compared to European countries which were indebted and whose populations were ageing quickly. “We … are the 32nd fastest growing economy in the world. The problem is foreign countries are reluctant to invest because our instability and the events of Marikana have done nothing to improve our situation.”
South Africa needed to watch out for the “red flags” which were signals of negative impacts which might lead the country to become a failed state, he said.
“The first red flag was the talk of nationalisation – fortunately this flag has been down since the ANC has made it clear that this is not on the cards since Mangaung.
“The second red flag is if there is a clumsy implementation of the National Health Insurance, which would lead to an exodus of young families who consider healthcare a priority.”
The last flag would be the gagging of the media through the secrecy bill. “If this were to happen it would jump the probability of a failed state by 10%.”
Sunter said South Africa had the capacity for innovation but its pockets of excellence needed to be supported and grown.