South Africa Is Littered with Opportunities to Put People to Work

Article excerpt

I earned a double F for maths in matric, could not quite grasp logic during my year of philosophy at the University of Natal and have never studied anthropology nor social engineering, so I have no idea why there are so many jobs to be done and so many unemployed and hungry people not doing them. Take for example the solid wash of revolting litter on Muizenberg beach.

Anyone who has taken even a few short strides, say from Sunrise Circle west towards Gordon's Bay, as thousands of strollers, joggers and dog lovers do each week, will tell you that the high tide mark is strung with plastic bottles, bits of plastic cups, plastic bags and all manner of indescribable, sticky, disgusting, unsightly stuff.

Not too far away, in the settlements, as novelist JM Coetzee might describe them, are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who, I am sure, would love to earn enough money to feed and clothe themselves.

How difficult would it be, I wonder, to take some of the money that ratepayers give to the council, buy some plastic bags and implement a scheme that each day has a row of people walking along the beach filling the bags with litter? Each person in the row gets paid for every bag they fill. At the end of the day a council truck arrives to take the bags to the nearby dump. As the scheme takes hold the litter would decrease to the degree that the clean-up crew may only be deployed once a week or so, but the take-out, as they say in the marketing world, would still be a distribution of funds to the needy - fewer starving beggars on the streets - and a cleanup of a much-loved public space. …