17 March 2017

South Africa: Government, Labour and Business Collaborations Bearing Fruit

Cape Town — President Jacob Zuma says the working relationship between government, business and labour has led to a number of initiatives aimed at reigniting growth.

The President said this in the National Assembly when he responded to oral questions on Thursday.

Member of Parliament from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Priscilla Mantashe had asked the President what role government envisaged for the private sector and labour to play in tackling economic exclusion.

In his response, the President said government will continue to work with business and labour to achieve the goals set out in the State of the Nation Address and other programmes to bring black people into the mainstream of the economy.

"The unity of purpose and action amongst us is underpinned by the National Development Plan, which is a roadmap for every key stakeholder and citizen of South Africa.

"We are indeed pleased with the good working relations between government and the private sector. We have been building on an existing history of working together.

"The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) mechanism has proven to be an effective clearing house for policies and laws. In recent times, this mechanism has helped us to achieve an agreement on the National Minimum Wage," he said.

The President said since the beginning of the global economic meltdown in 2008, government has collaborated with labour and the private sector to find mechanisms of cushioning the economy.

"Together we established the CEO Initiative and [we] meet at a high level as business, government and labour to discuss critical issues facing the economy and inclusivity.

"We also work together in designing implementation plans for key sectors in the implementation of the NDP through our flagship Operation Phakisa Big Fast Results programme.

"Experts from business, labour, government, academia and professional organisations come together to develop implementation plans," he said.

Need to radically transform the economy

The President said, meanwhile, that there was a need for the country to undergo radical economic transformation in order to close the inequality gap between the rich and the poor.

He said income inequality and economic exclusion of the majority of the population from the mainstream of the economy was no longer sustainable.

"Exclusion will not lead to the levels of economic growth we require in order eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment. It will also make our attempts at achieving true reconciliation futile.

"The country needs to undergo radical socio-economic transformation, which is a decision that was taken by the governing party, the ANC, at its 2012 national conference in Mangaung.

"One of the key aspects is to ensure the participation of black people in the economy as owners and top managers and not only as workers.

"The Constitution of the Republic is not as explicit on economic rights as it is on political rights. However, it does enjoin us to use legislative and other measures to reverse the discrimination of the past suffered by black people."

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