Stop the games and lead
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.