Jobs sum­mit gets down to do some work

The gov­ern­ing party’s in­ter­est is not to cre­ate jobs but to win votes

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - BOITUMELO SENOKOANE Senokoane is a pro­fes­sor in the Hu­man­i­ties De­part­ment at Unisa.

THE highly an­tic­i­pated two-day jobs sum­mit con­vened by the Na­tional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Labour Coun­cil took place on Thurs­day and Fri­day in Midrand, Jo­han­nes­burg.

The sum­mit, first mooted by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa dur­ing his State of the Na­tion Ad­dress, brought to­gether gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try play­ers, unions and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and aimed to come up with prac­ti­cal ways to im­prove growth and cre­ate jobs. Ramaphosa, to­gether with his deputy David Mabuza and min­is­ters at­tended. Ramaphosa said com­pa­nies needed to en­sure work­ers were bet­ter equipped, and eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture was ex­panded.

THE first Jobs Sum­mit spear­headed by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and held this past week brought to­gether a gov­ern­ing party and a pow­er­ful and wealthy sec­tion of so­ci­ety which, for the past 24 years, has been di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the cre­ation of unem­ploy­ment and poverty in South Africa.

Within that con­text is a tra­di­tion by the gov­ern­ing party to make de­ci­sions on be­half of the vic­tims of poverty and unem­ploy­ment with­out any con­sul­ta­tion or a man­date from the ma­jor­ity, who are yet to see the fruits of free­dom and whose rights are in­val­i­dated by a life of in­dig­nity.

In 2015, eco­nomic an­a­lyst Bo Mbind­wane ac­cen­tu­ated how bank cash re­serves of around R1 tril­lion and roughly R54­bil­lion (20% of the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct) have been sit­ting on the balance sheets of cor­po­ra­tions since 2006, tril­lions which could have been used to cre­ate jobs, re­new fac­to­ries (ma­chin­ery and equip­ment), and “nudge the econ­omy up by at least 1%” and spur a mul­ti­plier ef­fect in other sec­tors while con­tribut­ing to tax col­lec­tion.

Hoard­ing of large sums of cash, dodg­ing or de­lay­ing pay­ing taxes, af­fects the fis­cus, so­cial se­cu­rity pro­grammes and other pub­lic pro­grammes to service the poor.

Mbind­wane adds that “South Africa sees many com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing An­glo Amer­i­can, mak­ing their ini­tial cap­i­tal in this coun­try, only to use it to ex­pand ex­ter­nally, drop­ping South Africa as a pri­or­ity in the process.

“Of­ten these cor­po­ra­tions pro­ceed to ig­nore how they made the cap­i­tal.”

Ac­cord­ing to the EFF’S deputy pres­i­dent, Floyd Shivambu, “the re­port of the high-level panel on il­licit fi­nan­cial flows from Africa found that, be­tween 1970 and 2008, South Africa lost R1.208 tril­lion be­cause of ag­gres­sive tax avoid­ance.

“Yet very few tax avoid­ance cases have been taken to court, as the cur­rent tax laws are out­dated and do not ac­count for the fact that the dif­fer­ence be­tween il­le­gal tax eva­sion and le­gal tax avoid­ance is more blurred than ever, due to cur­rent eco­nomic poli­cies and the fi­nan­cial­i­sa­tion of the world econ­omy.”

How can the gov­ern­ment cre­ate jobs, roll out so­cial grants, pro­vide free qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, a min­i­mum wage for youth, free health care and im­prove se­cu­rity when com­pa­nies are en­gaged in acts of eco­nomic ter­ror­ism?

How can South Africans who bear the brunt of unem­ploy­ment also trust that the ANC po­lit­i­cal elite led by Ramaphosa – who wears two caps as a politi­cian and prof­i­teer – would cre­ate an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the vic­tims of unem­ploy­ment?

The ex­clu­sion of Africans, in par­tic­u­lar, and youth by those who con­trol the econ­omy from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the main­stream econ­omy does not re­quire a Jobs Sum­mit but po­lit­i­cal will from the ANC to change, and en­act eco­nomic leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate eco­nomic own­er­ship and con­trol for the black ma­jor­ity ham­pered by leg­is­la­tion such as the Pref­er­en­tial Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy Frame­work Act, the Mu­nic­i­pal Fis­cal Pow­ers and Func­tions Act, Bank­ing Act and the Con­struc­tion In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Board Act.

The Anc-led gov­ern­ment un­der Ramaphosa must change the scope of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor which con­tin­ues to gate-keep fi­nance from the black ma­jor­ity.

Shivambu speaks of how “banks con­tinue to use race as a mech­a­nism of grant­ing black peo­ple ac­cess to mort­gage and other forms of fi­nances” and “keep­ing alive eco­nomic apartheid by us­ing ac­cess credit to shape hu­man set­tle­ment spa­tial pat­terns in terms of ac­cess to prop­er­ties, fa­cil­i­ties, ed­u­ca­tion (and) life­style choices”.

He says “banks and South Africa’s fi­nan­cial sys­tem place al­most all black peo­ple in debt and have de­signed a car­tel-like sys­tem that makes it im­pos­si­ble for black peo­ple to own valu­able prop­erty, yet gives cheaper and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble credit for per­ish­able goods.”

Ramaphosa should ac­knowl­edge that cur­rent macro-eco­nomic poli­cies, which put the in­ter­est of cor­po­rate South Africa and multi­na­tion­als first, need to change and that busi­ness sum­mits merely add to the il­lu­sion that cap­i­tal has any in­ter­est in chang­ing the coun­try.

The same gov­ern­ment which has spent R15 mil­lion on such a talk shop also in­tends to re­trench more than 300 000 gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and pri­va­tise state-owned en­ti­ties, which will also lead to job losses.

It is my view that the Jobs Sum­mit was a mere elec­tion­eer­ing tool by the Anc-led gov­ern­ment and false ad­ver­tis­ing by a gov­ern­ing party which, for the past few months, has en­grossed it­self in struc­tural ad­just­ments and aus­ter­ity mea­sures whose in­ter­est is not to cre­ate jobs, but to pun­ish the work­ing class and the poor for the dire per­for­mance of the econ­omy.

African News Agency (ANA)

Seated, from left: Sipho Pityana, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, Bheki Nt­shal­intshali and Thu­lani Tshe­futha sign­ing the con­tin­u­ance jobs sum­mit agree­ment at Gal­lagher Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Midrand last week. | Bhekikhaya Mabaso

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