South Africa election: Mxit poll says jobs biggest issue

Job hunters with placards

Unemployment is the major issue among young South Africans ahead of next week's election, a BBC poll suggests.

Nearly half of the 1,600 people polled on South African instant messaging application Mxit said jobs were their biggest concern.

Education was the second most popular issue, mentioned by a quarter of respondents. This was followed by basic services, on 11%.

The 7 May election is the first time that those born after the end of apartheid will be able to vote nationally.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says that while local headlines are frequently dominated by stories of violent protests calling for provision of basic services and a lot of attention is paid to crime, corruption and the large numbers of South Africans with HIV, this shows that the most pressing daily concern for people on the ground is the economy.

What matters most?

  • Jobs - 46.8%
  • Education - 25.3%
  • Basic services (water, housing, electricity) - 11.4%
  • Crime & security - 7%
  • Leadership - 6.5%
  • Health - 3%

Source: BBC poll of Mxit app subscribers April 2014

Almost a quarter of all South Africans are jobless with the unemployment rate around 24% in 2014 up on 1994 20%, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Narnia Bohler-Muller from the Human Social Research Council says 50% of young people who have left school in South Africa are unemployed.

"South Africa is now third in the world, after Greece and Spain, when it comes to youth unemployment," she adds.

Twenty-five-year-old Lionel Dick lives in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, and has been unemployed for five years.

"I live with 13 people in a four-bedroom house and no-one is employed," he told the BBC.

Unemployed: Case study

Syanda Msomi

Syanda Msomi, 26, Gauteng:

I am not happy at all. I am unemployed with a matric [school-leaving] certificate. But since I left school, I really can't find any long-term jobs.

I wanted to work in administration but there are only temporary jobs that last for two or three months.

I don't see any change in rural areas like where I live in Winterveldt - there is no shopping centre, there's nothing.

I live with my grandmother and my four younger siblings. We buy 25 litres (5.5 gallons) of water for one rand (1 US cent; 0.6 pence) a day to drink, to bathe, and wash.

Our government does not care about the people. All the politicians do is tell us to vote but for what? I won't vote as long as I still don't benefit from the government.

"I'm a father of four children, and we live in a house with a grandmother and other family members who are also looking for work."

"I'm skilled in many trades including plumbing, but we survive on the private jobs I do once a week or twice a month - it's a struggle."

Syanda Msomi is 26 and has been looking for permanent work since 2008.

He lives in a rural area in Winterveldt, Gauteng.

"I wanted to work in administration but there are only temporary jobs that last for two or three months," he says.

"I have friends who are in the same position as me. I don't know what I'm going to do now."

After unemployment, education was the next area that matters most to people.

Joseph Giacomo is a law student in Gauteng.

He says the cost of higher education is too high.

"I am studying at home because the NSFAs [a government student loan and bursary scheme] didn't come through to some financially disadvantaged students like me."

"I believe higher education should be free, and people should be helped to get a matric qualification to study at higher education."

Luvo Fini in Western Cape says: "I work on a farm and in 2010 I passed grade 12, but due to lack of finance I wasn't able to study further."

Adrienne Murray reports on the part the economy may play in the South African election

"Although I had a diploma I had no bursary or financial assistance - South Africa doesn't care about poor people."

"I'm just going to vote, just to vote, but I've lost hope in this country."

South Africa's election will be held on Wednesday 7 May.

The African National Congress is expected to be re-elected - it has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

But many South Africans accuse it of not doing enough to help poor people - a feeling the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters are hoping to exploit.

Mxit users in South Africa can get the latest BBC news on the key issues until the end of the election by adding 'bbcnewssa' as a contact.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Why should people expect change when the ruling party never changes? Change starts with you, if you vote for the same party, that same party will win and there will be no change. You complain that there are no jobs, the government does nothing for you? Don't complain, rather vote for a party that will create jobs, that will do something for you. Change your vote and you will see a difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    One problem is that many South Africans are not always inclined to work. You recruit locals and they are (generally speaking) less reliable and more dishonest than people from, for example, Malawi or Zambia, or Europe. This isn't a race thing, Afrikaaners and black people are the same: there appears to be an attitude among some South Africans that the world owes them a living. History, I guess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    No, jobs are not the biggest issue.

    The biggest issue is the corrupt twonks that South Africans vote into government, normally voted in because of tribal affiliations & not for competence & morals.

    If South Africans are too stupid to believe that Zuma had nothing to do with $23m upgrade to his home, then thats their problem.

    South Africas problem is tribalism, a form of racism

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    What one actually votes for in South Africa, is basically who is going to get a new expensive car house & loads of expenses

    Last election, new government MPs went out en mass & purchased £75,000 mercedes & other cars.

    S Africa is no different to most countrys in which the powerful elite corrupt systems/nations for their own wealth channeling purpose.

    $23million to upgrade Zumas home , lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    what happened to all the promises of the anc end poverty end corruption work for everyone wealth for everyone , the truth was they where like all political parties corrupt to the core like the uk


Comments 5 of 18


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