Survey: Unemployment remains Uitenhage’s biggest challenge

Uitenhage Business HubIn a recently online survey, 57% of respondents agreed Uitenhage’s biggest challenge remains unemployment. With Youth unemployment approaching 50%1 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro according to 2011 Census data, two entrepreneurs have decided to launch the Uitenhage Business Hub on Monday, 2 September 2013.

Many students after graduating with a degree or diploma relocate to Gauteng or Cape Town to find employment and opportunities that is not available in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro,” says Elaine Camoetie, co-founder of Uitenhage Business Hub. “Most of those who leave Uitenhage never return and therefore economic growth is either flat or declining in real terms.”

Over the last 10 years there’s been a growing resentment among the people of Uitenhage after the merger with Port Elizabeth and Despatch into the Mandela Bay Municipality. Most people cannot articulate their frustration because they feel economic development and job creation is skewed towards Port Elizabeth. Despatch, an even smaller town and neighbour to Uitenhage, probably gets the shortest end of the stick, let alone black townships like Kwa-Nobuhle.

The combined population of Kwa-Nobuhle township and Uitenhage is about 200,000 from estimates based on the Census data. The biggest employers are Volkswagen SA, Goodyear and mostly factories providing products to the motor manufacturing industry.

“High unemployment among the youth is likely to reinforce apathy, increase crime, teenage pregnancy, drug & alcohol abuse,” according to Ramon Thomas, an entrepreneur who relocated back to Uitenhage after 15 years in Johannesburg. “Entrepreneurship teaches you to take responsibility for creating your own future, your own opportunities, before expecting anything in return.”

The Uitenhage Business Hub co-founded by Elaine Camoetie, Yusuf Moses and Ramon Thomas has mission to create 20,000 jobs the next 20 years. The Hub will provides shared office space, Internet access, and will launch large scale Learnership programmes from the mICT SETA in 2014.

Informal partnerships exists with Raizcorp, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), CommunityLED, and the Media Workshop.

Thomas confirms, “with only 28 respondents it is not statistically valid to rely conclusively on the online survey, and a follow-up study is planned among the community via cellphones before 2014.”

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Media Contacts

  • Elaine Camoetie: mobile 078 002 6918 email e@uitenhage.org.za
  • Ramon Thomas: mobile 081 4399 555 email r@uitenhage.org.za

Thousands queue for relief as recession bites

THOUSANDS of desperate retrenched workers are queuing up for unemployment benefits as the global economic recession bites hard in the Eastern Cape.

As the motor industry and other sectors shed jobs, the number of people seeking relief from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has rocketed. Those dependent on UIF has increased by 20 per cent nationally – from 139000 to 168000 between 2007 and last year – and the situation is getting worse.

Long queues of unemployed people outside the Port Elizabeth regional labour department offices at Britannia Street in the central business district attest to soaring unemployment figures.

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who is visiting the Eastern Cape, said UIF benefits had become “a temporary relief mechanism” for especially migrant workers‘ families.

With massive retrenchment on the mines, thousands of migrant workers have returned to their rural homes in the Eastern Cape.

Mdladlana will today hold an imbizo at Chief Ngqika‘s palace near King William‘s Town to assist members of the public to register UIF claims and file for injury-at-work compensation.

The UIF fund pays beneficiaries about R14-million a day and the figure is expected to increase dramatically.

Last year alone, more than R2-billion in benefits was paid out.

In a bid to fend off further job losses and company closures, motor industry representatives will meet Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa on Tuesday to present a R10-billion bailout proposal for the industry. The National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam), National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) and the trade and industry department yesterday confirmed the meeting.

DTI spokesman Vu- kani Mde said: “I can officially confirm that the minister is meeting Naamsa on the 24th. I don‘t know about Naacam, they could be together.”

Naacam chief executive Roger Pitot said the meeting would be between his organisation‘s president, Stewart Jennings, the Naamsa president, VWSA managing director David Powels and Mpahlwa.

Pitot said: “We want to request assistance for the motor industry. Government has to provide bridging finance. We estimate that we will need about R10-billion in loans. We also say the government should subsidise the interest rates for these loans. Interest rates in South Africa are much higher than the rest of the world. If government doesn‘t assist, we will lose a lot of companies and thousands of jobs.”

Naamsa chief executive Nico Vermuelen said the meeting was also aimed at briefing Mpahlwa on the state of the sector. “We will put a case for measures for the stabilisation of employment and measures to improve access to finance for suppliers and dealers.” They were the ones hit hard by the crisis. Yesterday, The Herald reported that General Motors planned to reduce its staff by a further 400 people, adding to the 1000 jobs cut through voluntary retrenchments last year.

Last month, VWSA announced it would offer voluntary packages to 400 workers and a three-week production cut. There have also been job cuts at Ford here and at its main plant in Pretoria.

It was reported yesterday that Mercedes-Benz SA in East London is planning a month- long production cut.

Source: The Herald