Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma says a robust partnership between government, business and the labour sector is needed to address the economic challenges facing the country.
"There is a need to work together on our economy... which has also faced pressure due to the current wave of strikes.?We reiterate our call to business and labour to work together to find solutions, so that we can revert to the primary task at hand - to build the country, build the economy and improve the quality of life.
"We need to create the right climate, environment and ideas to develop our economy. Urgent steps are needed to avoid an economic downturn," said Zuma at the Social Dialogue meeting held between government, business and labour on Friday evening.
He encouraged stakeholders to innovate new measures to stimulate economic growth. Government recently adopted the massive Infrastructure Plan that is expected to transform the economic landscape of the country and strengthen the delivery of basic services to the population.
"We have various other packages to boost manufacturing and to support job creation in general... There is a lot that we can do, and we need those ideas today so that we can develop a workable framework.
"We need a partnership based on clear commitments and actions by each of us. We have begun to do some work on what government can do... but we cannot succeed if we rely only on government. We need a joint response. That is why we have assembled this leadership team here today," said the President.
The meeting, which was attended by the ministers from the economic and security clusters, also included the presidents of the Business Unity South Africa, Black Business Council, labour organisations Cosatu, Fedusa, Nactu, and Nedlac's top brass.
Although the leaders welcomed the end of the three-week truck drivers' strike and efforts to resolve the strikes in the platinum, gold and coal mining industries, they expressed grave concern over the lawlessness and the escalation of violent strikes in some sectors.
They called on the law enforcement agencies to act firmly against these elements, pledging their cooperation in the talks to end strikes in the mining industry.
Last week, Cabinet also expressed concern over the lawlessness, violence and intimidation that it said have marred the democratic right of workers to strike.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said the parties agreed that there was a need to speed up the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment.
"The parties agreed to take steps to improve public and investor confidence in the economy and to promote social stability using their respective resources and capacities to build a partnership for development," he said.
Concerning Marikana, the parties agreed to support the Commission of Inquiry and urged people to participate freely in the commission. They said law enforcement agencies must assist in ensuring the right environment for people to participate, with the support of the community.
President Zuma set up the Commission of Inquiry to probe the tragedy in Marikana mine in August.
The commission will submit interim reports and recommendations to Zuma each month before the final report is presented.