The African National Congress (ANC) says battling unemployment continues to be its top priority.

Secretary-General Ace Magashule was briefing the media at Luthuli House in Johannesburg on the outcomes of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which was held in Pretoria.

South Africa’s unemployment rate has increased more than expected in the second quarter.

Statistics South Africa says second-quarter jobless rates jumped to 29% – its highest level since 2008.

The unemployment rate stood at 27.6% in the first quarter.

Magashule says unemployment remains the ANC’s core focus.

“This continues to be the single most important challenge. The NEC expressed great concern about the continued job losses and urged government and all social partners to address this process by implementing the 2018 job summit agreement, including such measures such as temporary employer-employee relief scheme to be used by companies in distress as a means of financial relief to retain jobs and re-skill workers. Government and social partners are also urged to report on urgent measures to tackle the problem of unemployment, especially youth unemployment,” says Magashule.

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Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says government has to change its economic policies to deal with the shockingly high unemployment rate, which now stands at 29%. That’s 1.4 percentage points higher than the first quarter of 2019.

Saftu General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the increase in unemployment comes as no surprise and will continue to grow as long as the current policies are kept in place by the governing ANC.

“Our government has been absolutely resolute that it is going to continue to pursue the economic policies that have dismally failed the poor and working people in this country, and one of the signs of somebody who has gone mad is somebody who keeps on repeating the same thing and hoping for a different result. We chose a set of economic policies that simply worsened our situation. Last year, the president announced what could only be a laughable intervention, not even a quarter of what this economy demands. We need a real intervention in this economy ,” says Vavi.