Trade unions and much of the ANC leadership have a warped idea of the role private enterprise plays in our economy
WITH THE MUNICIPAL elections coming up and repeated occurrences of unrest in residential areas, where people feel Government seems to have forgotten them, it’s no surprise we’re suddenly seeing a new focus on job creation. Judging by all the noise President Jacob Zuma and his ministers are making, it certainly looks as if they intend doing something that will result in large numbers of jobs for all the desperate unemployed.
Analysts have different totals showing how many people have no hope of finding a job. But the exact figure isn’t really important. The point, as everyone in South Africa realises, is unemployment is one of this country’s most serious problems.
At conferences on job creation – such as, once again, the latest between Government, trade unions and the business sector – everyone had much to say about the problem but ultimately very little is done to create the conditions necessary for large-scale job creation. The problem is, SA’s trade unions and much of the ANC leadership have a pretty warped idea of the role private enterprise plays in our economy.
One gets the impression many of them see the business sector as the enemy that controls scarce resources only for its own benefit. And therefore legislation and pressure from the authorities and trade unions are necessary to break the hold the fat cats have on that nice juicy fruit. Unfortunately, that causes a hardening of a racial view of society as a zero-sum game. If one group wins, the other loses. That’s a view allowed to take shape under President Thabo Mbeki’s government in the place of the emphasis on a win-win approach by Presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk.
In terms of the zero-sum approach, Government only needs to strictly enforce legislation on black ownership, labour affairs, mineral rights, land reform, the free flow of information and whatever else to ensure success. An approach of this nature will, of course, not bring development to the masses. But as long as the elite and their families reap the benefit, it fits quite comfortably with their definition of “success”. But, fortunately, not everyone in Government has such a blinkered outlook.
However, that narrow-minded view is regrettably the one that now seems to be predominant. And as long as this is the case, it will act as a brake on economic growth and the potential for job creation and human resources development.
When will we realise SA’s entrepreneurs, managers, workers, politicians and professionals are in fact all members of the same team competing against the rest of the world?