Stop the games and lead

CityPress - - Voices -

Ul­ti­mately, so­ci­eties bur­dened with high un­em­ploy­ment rates face a slow death by a thou­sand cuts un­less steps are taken to heal the wounds and stop the bleed­ing.

South Africa is one of those weak­ened pa­tients and the news this week that another 20 000 jobs are soon to be lost in the min­ing sec­tor just makes the prog­no­sis worse.

While another few thou­sand jobs lost will not deal the fa­tal blow for this econ­omy, in the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties it will be a blow from which many will never re­cover.

Our econ­omy has been flatlin­ing with a steady un­em­ploy­ment rate for many years, and it shows no sign of wak­ing up from its coma.

The prob­lem is that this week’s an­nounce­ments come at a time when the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion says it is re­ceiv­ing an un­prece­dented num­ber of no­ti­fi­ca­tions of job cuts to come.

What makes this mo­ment even more crit­i­cal for South Africa is that cor­po­ra­tions all over the world are pre­par­ing for wors­en­ing eco­nomic times.

A cri­sis on this scale needs grand think­ing. We need to put our heads to­gether to try to min­imise the dam­age and chart a path to­wards what must be a re­con­fig­ured econ­omy and work­place.

All the part­ners – gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, or­gan­ised labour and mav­er­ick thinkers – need to work to­gether and chart this path.

We can no longer af­ford the talk shops of the past, where par­ties got to­gether, signed some­thing, and then went home and for­got about it.

We need to de­velop trust, and gov­ern­ment needs to build this trust.

It is not use­ful for gov­ern­ment lead­ers and gov­ern­ing party de­ci­sion mak­ers to mouth off about “mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” be­ing the “en­emy”.

Trade unions have that lib­erty be­cause they have a con­stituency and are ex­pected to be mil­i­tant in their class re­la­tions. But this is not so when you are the leader of a so­ci­ety and the stew­ard of an econ­omy that must not just get out of cri­sis, but must keep up with a world that owes you no favours.

Our call to gov­ern­ment and the gov­ern­ing party is as fol­lows: Quit play­ing fac­tional games and ide­o­log­i­cal pos­tur­ing, and start lead­ing.

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