Will stay

Deputy pres­i­dent talks up gov­ern­ment-labour ven­ture to has­ten eco­nomic growth

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN justin.brown@city­press.co.za

The wave of vi­o­lent protests en­gulf­ing Tsh­wane would not dampen al­ready vul­ner­a­ble in­vestor con­fi­dence, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said this week.

The protests – which have been associated with fa­tal shoot­ings, loot­ings, bar­ri­caded roads and burn­ing buses – come with a re­port, re­leased ear­lier this month by the SA Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, stat­ing that local busi­ness con­fi­dence had hit its low­est level since 1993.

Ramaphosa was speak­ing at a me­dia briefing on Tues­day, af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and some of his Cab­i­net min­is­ters met with lead­ers of the three ma­jor trade unions, Cosatu, Fe­dusa and Nactu.

He said gov­ern­ment did not want peo­ple to re­sort to vi­o­lence.

“We are deeply con­cerned about the de­struc­tion of prop­erty ... We con­demn vi­o­lent at­tacks in the strong­est terms. Peo­ple need to stay calm and de­sist from vi­o­lence. There is a clear mes­sage: South Africa does not tol­er­ate vi­o­lence,” he said.

The un­rest in the Tsh­wane metro co­in­cided with the ANC’s de­ci­sion to se­lect Thoko Didiza as its may­oral can­di­date for the Au­gust 3 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions. Didiza is a for­mer Cab­i­net min­is­ter and a cur­rent branch ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber in Pretoria east. Yet, be­cause of her low pro­file, she is viewed as an out­sider by dis­grun­tled ANC mem­bers in the area.

Ramaphosa ex­pressed dis­quiet at what he re­ferred to as the “trib­al­is­tic” un­der­tones of the up­heaval.

Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini said the ruckus could have a di­rect ef­fect on the econ­omy. Work­ers in par­tic­u­lar could not get to their jobs amid such a dis­tur­bance.

“Labour calls for the end to vi­o­lence and for peo­ple to ex­er­cise their right to demon­strate peace­fully,” Dlamini said.

Fe­dusa gen­eral sec­re­tary Den­nis Ge­orge said acts of vi­o­lence took away from democ­racy and called on the po­lice to take swift ac­tion against per­pe­tra­tors.

Th­ese events will heighten fears among the busi­ness com­mu­nity that, should there be dis­af­fected par­ties fol­low­ing the re­sults of the polls, there might be a re­cur­rence of un­rest.

On the other hand, Ramaphosa said he ex­pected things to qui­eten down be­tween now and the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, stress­ing that they would go ahead as planned.

Turn­ing to the pres­i­den­tial labour work­ing group meet­ing, the deputy pres­i­dent said is­sues that had been ad­dressed in­cluded the gov­ern­ment’s nine-point plan and the na­tional min­i­mum wage.

Gov­ern­ment was tak­ing ac­count of the need to ad­dress eco­nomic chal­lenges, Ramaphosa said.

“The unions talked about the need to cre­ate more jobs. Labour came up with a num­ber of pro­pos­als in this re­gard. The so­cial sys­tem needs to lighten the bur­den on work­ing peo­ple,” he added.

A re­cent prece­dent that showed the suc­cess­ful out­come of work­ing to­gether was the March visit to New York and Lon­don by union rep­re­sen­ta­tives, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives to in­vestors there, putting across the coun­try’s po­si­tion and, in so do­ing, avoid­ing South Africa’s credit rat­ing be­ing down­graded, Ramaphosa said. “The meet­ing agreed on a need to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of poli­cies, in­clud­ing mon­i­tor­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of labour mar­ket poli­cies and their im­pact on the econ­omy, and tak­ing mea­sures to im­prove en­force­ment, thus pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble work­ers,” Ramaphosa said. At the meet­ing, a 10mem­ber com­mit­tee was formed, com­pris­ing four gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and two each from the three unions.

Ramaphosa said there had also been a call by labour for a jobs sum­mit.

Cosatu’s Dlamini said that the last time a jobs sum­mit was held was 13 years ago, in 2003. Out of that “came a lot of pol­icy in­junc­tions”, he said.

Nactu pres­i­dent Joseph Maqhekeni said that, be­fore 2003, the pre­vi­ous jobs sum­mit was in 1998.

“We do not want a talk shop. A job sum­mit has to have re­sults,” he said.

Fe­dusa’s Ge­orge said that there was a need for a new wage pol­icy. He cited a new sur­vey claim­ing that the in­come split be­tween com­pa­nies and work­ers had seen work­ers’ pro­por­tion of in­come drop by 5% and the com­pa­nies’ share rise by 5%.

Ge­orge added his sup­port for a jobs sum­mit, say­ing: “We need to find cre­ative so­lu­tions.”

Ramaphosa said the gov­ern­ment had agreed to the pro­posed jobs sum­mit and it would be ar­ranged by the new com­mit­tee.

Cyril Ramaphosa

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