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24 Aug, 2021 11:15

South Africa’s unemployment rate, which contributed to winter looting spree, reaches record high of 34.4%

South Africa’s unemployment rate, which contributed to winter looting spree, reaches record high of 34.4%

South Africa’s unemployment rate has climbed to a new record high of 34.4%. Incredibly high jobless rates continue to contribute to social unrest and were a key factor in the outbreak of violence and looting this winter.

On Tuesday, Statistician General Risenga Maluleke announced that the unemployment rate had risen from 32.6% in the first three months of the year to 34.4% in the second quarter. According to Bloomberg, the figure is the highest of 82 countries monitored by the financial software and media firm. 

“The impact [of COVID-19] that we are seeing is [that] most firms have closed down... we can see with the rise in unemployment,” Maluleke told a news conference. Job losses from quarter two primarily came in the finance sector, which shed some 278,000 workers. There were a further 166,000 job losses in social services and 83,000 in manufacturing. 

Also on rt.com Former president Zuma hospitalized from prison after jailing led to South Africa’s worst riots in years

An expanded definition of unemployment, which includes those dissuaded from looking for work, suggests that 44.4% of the labor force were without work in the second quarter. The figure equates to around 11.9 million people.

Job creation has been put at the center of the plan for post-pandemic South Africa by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but the country continues to suffer from Covid-19 restrictions and long-term economic mismanagement.

Earlier this year, thousands took part in widespread violence and looting across Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal. More than 300 people died during the rioting, which saw around 3,000 stores looted. The army was called in to stabilize the two provinces and some 3,400 people were arrested. The riots were also triggered by the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, who refused to appear at a corruption trial. 

In the latest blow to the looters, Samsung vowed to remotely disable all of the thousands of television sets stolen from its retailers during the riots.

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