THE average South African does not understand his own, nor his country's, future. And neither our politicians nor our financial experts seem bothered to explain it to us in simple layman's terms.
The reality, as I see it, is:
The shoes on our feet, the clothes on our backs and the chicken in the oven are now largely imported items. So, too, are 1000 other simple items that were previously produced locally.
Every such imported item contributes to the destruction of local jobs, and the creation of jobs in India, China, Brazil, Madagascar and even developed nations. (My cheap disposable razors come from the United States because the locals can't match the price.)
Our nation does not spurn local goods because we are unpatriotic. We do so because we want the best price.
The "Buy South African" campaign is thus largely futile.
South Africa has priced itself out of both the local and international markets because its workforce has pushed its own labour rate (and thus inefficiency) beyond that of our competitors. This selfish, short term money-grabbing is the main cause of the loss of millions of local jobs and the resultant creation of millions of foreign jobs.
We may not officially refuse the cheaper imports. If we do, our trading partners will refuse our last remaining exports to them.
There is only one solution. Our workforce must produce more for the same pay.
This implies future pay increases at well below the inflation rate.
In the light of this suicidal spiral into joblessness, our leaders tell us they will create five million new jobs within five years. Since that irresponsible claim was made, we have lost another one million jobs.
They thus now owe the nation six million new jobs within only four years. This will not happen, even if the global economy turns.
All of this has little to do with the current economic slowdown. Our job losses began long before and will continue long thereafter.
I suspect that anarchy will break out when the trusting jobless millions realise that they have been hoodwinked by false promises and go on the rampage nationally. This may not be a rosy picture, but matters are not helped by ignorance or denial.
Our only hope is that the above simple truth is carefully explained to our politicians, unions and labour force who perhaps do not yet understand the stern realities facing us.
They, and they alone, must take full responsibility for the current joblessness in South Africa and correct the situation.
There is no other solution.
Leon Marshall, Westering, Port Elizabeth